Some photographers believe in printing the entire negative
as a statement that they composed and cropped "in camera". This
may be a noble concept but I find that I don't always get the composition
right at first or that an unseen object at the edge of the frame has the
potential to ruin the photo.
Usually this is not the case, almost all of my images
are printed full frame, however there are times when severe cropping is
necessary to rescue an image.
The photo Tranquil Light
is a good example. As can be seen from the full frame version below there
was a lot more of the stream in the original photo.
What you may not be able to make out is the marks left
by a length of 2 by 4 timber that was lying on the beach. After taking
my first two negatives I noticed the offending human artifact and decided
to remove it and re-shoot. I tippy-toed across the sand, grabbed the item
and did the best I could to remove the marks left by both the wood and
my boots. This is almost impossible to do as the slightest blemish, in
what is otherwise perfectly smooth sand, attracts the viewer's eye like
a magnet, especially when the blemishes have a spacing suspiciously akin
to that of human footprints. This was probably enough reason to crop the
image but there was more
I had misjudged the brightness range of the scene and
therefore processed the negatives inappropriately (I had so many negs
after this trip that I relaxed my rule of processing one neg and viewing
it before processing the second). After several attempts at taming the
upper part of this print I began to realise that I may not be able to
create a quality print from this negative.
Taking the path of least resistance I reasoned that,
if the top is too hard to print, then I wouldn't print it. I cropped the
image and was pleased to find that not only did I have a print that was
easier to make but, more importantly, I had a simpler and stronger image.
There are of course many creative reasons for
cropping an image but I'll leave that discussion for another day. Meanwhile
just remember that life is full of stuff-ups, and cropping is one of nature's
ways to salvage things.