How I Crop My Drag Racing Photographs

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

On February 7-10, the 2019 NHRA season kicks off with the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California, so today’s post about drag racing seemed appropriate.

I’m often asked about how I crop images or even if I actually crop my photographs, so here’s the deal: After capturing images and then processing them, I seldom crop, preferring to do it in-camera in order to extract the maximum image quality from the minimum number of pixels. This is especially true with the 18 × 13.5 mm sensors in my Micro Four-thirds cameras but I make an exception to this rule for some of my drag racing photographs.

One thing that you’ll notice at the track is that there are lots of people—spectators, crew, and safety staff—who inevitably will walk into your frame. That’s when I crop but when I do I try to maintain the image’s original aspect ratio. Aspect ratio is the relationship between the height and width of the image and is usually expressed as a comparison of two numbers. Traditional 35mm film cameras and full frame digital SLRs use a 24x36mm (3:2) format but these days many cameras shoot in different aspect ratios, including the widescreen 16:9 HD video ratio.

The way I prefer to crop my car photographs it is to set Photoshop’s Crop tool using the original proportions of the photograph by looking at the numbers in the Image Size (Image > Image Size) command.  Photoshop CS6 and CC gives you the option of maintaining the “original ratio” or you pick a bunch of others, including the 16:9 that’s what I used in the above photograph. My philosophy is that by using the original ratio the cropped image maintains the same look as the original photograph and doesn’t look “cropped.”

Some of my photographer/friends like to kid me about this approach because I am nowhere near a purist in any of the rest my work. The most important part of the last sentence is this is the way that I like to do it. Since this is not a “my way or the highway” blog, you should crop your photographs any way you like.

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My book, Creative Digital Monochrome Effects  that has a photograph of an Allard on the cover is available from Amazon with used copies selling for less than four bucks. This is a heckuva deal and if you bring a copy to any one of our Cars & Coffee PhotoWalks, I’ll be glad to sign your copy.