Last time I mentioned some of the image editing software options available to you for free download or bundled with certain digital cameras you purchase. So you’ve all installed yours on the computer, right ?

Editing technique number one to know is how to crop effectively. It is the ideal fix for photos that were badly composed (shot in a hurry!) or contained unwanted distracting objects. The cropping tool in the software is normally denoted by a boxy looking icon depicting scissors.

An effective photograph is like a good essay that puts across one story, or an idea. Think about that when you crop. Dismiss the notion that your subject needs to be at the centre of the photograph. Think about what story you are trying to tell, or what looks interesting. Consider how you would like the eye of the viewer to travel.

Experiment. Remember first to save your original image from the camera, and always work on copies only. The beauty of modern high resolution cameras is that you can crop away the majority of the image and still end up with a highly viable image.

The photos in the article below come from a very interesting editorial shoot I recently did at the South African Astronomical Observatory centre near Sutherland. At close to 5.45 am in the middle of winter, a vehicle driven by curious astronomers going off duty pulled up alongside my camera in the dark, which was busy with a 15 minute timed exposure and mounted on a tripod. 

This was a key shot at a crucial time with no opportunity for repeats on the same day, so I was forced to perform a horizontal crop. I also performed quite a complex edit on the original raw image.


 I decided to leave the lens flare (the star-shaped red artifacts) because they add interest to the pic. The results tell the story.

CROPPED SHOT - much better - note the star tracks!

This Digital Tips has been basic, maybe too basic for some. However, it is very important to beginners. You’re welcome to email me your queries of a more advanced nature or call 021 789 2560 during office hours.

I will be running a summer class early in December. Contact me if interested.


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