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Old Oct 21, 2006, 6:52 PM   #1
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This is a question for everyone and something I was thinking the other day went I went to a local art suppy store and noticed that they had no frames or mats to fit some 8x12 prints I got made.

So here is the question: "Do you compose in your camera's viewfinder to get the best out of the scene, or do you compose to capture the scene with the intent of cropping later?"

When it comes to some forms of photography such as portriture and group shots it no doubt would be wise to compose with room to crop because some people want 4x6 prints, 5x7, and 8x10. So you need room to fit these formats whether you shoot with a 3:2 camera or 4:3.

However, when it comes to landscape (nature) photography I prefer to capture the best composition in camera so that I can make prints without the need for cropping which will provide prints that have a better quality (even if subtle) compared to prints that have been cropped.

For example, If I shoot a 3:2 picture and compose in a way that the subject, forground, and background fills the frame with only a margin of error allowed for difference in what is seen in the viewfinder as well as for when the image is printed, trimmed, and then matted; this would make the captured scene have the most detail.

Now if I were to compose the same shot with the mindset that I was going to make both 8x10 (or 5x7, 12x16, etc...) and 8x12 (or any other 3:2 size) pictures, the I would have to shoot with the subject, background, and forground, not filling up the frame to allow for crop room. Essentially the resoultion of my picture would be reduced if not shooting in it's native format because of this.

Now of course there are times when 8x10 would be the goal (portiture and such) so the reduction in resoultion due to allow room for cropping is neccessary. There are also time when landscape shots can be cropped from the 3:2 frame to fit 8x10 just fine without needing to shoot further away. However, I'm refering specifically to the type of shots that 3:2 frame cannot fit 8x10 without shooting further away or with a wider focal distance. The type of shots that the subject goes from one edge to the other.

Here are two examples of this is the picture below which I feel croping to fit 8x10 would destory the coposition, and the feeling of depth and hieght in the image:

So again what do you do? Shoot with with cropping in mind? Or keep the native 3:2 aspect ratio (8x12) as your intended print size?

Since I normally keep the aspect ratio of the print the same as the camera in many of my shots, I'm going to have to go custom or order online when it comes to mats and frames (unless I find a store that sells 8x12, 10x15, 12x18, etc..., mats and frames to accomidate. But I don't mind so much if the quality of the print is a bit better. Keep in mind that i also print up to 12x18 with my Canon XT so any lose of IQ can be noticed at this size.

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Old Oct 21, 2006, 7:31 PM   #2
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I automatically find myself framing as close to 'perfectly' in camera as I can, but when I get round to printing I often find myself wishing I'd left room to crop to a different aspect ratio, as a lot of the time I simply can't without wrecking the image (ie, a choice of either chopping off the top of a cows ears or the bottom of its jaw etc).
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Old Oct 22, 2006, 12:01 AM   #3
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I usually shoot multiple compositions that I like without regard to print-dimension (note that I don't sell prints or images for a living). You can always just take more shots since you're shooting digital and memory space is cheap. Cropping shouldn't be a problem unless your printing huge sizes or cropping out too much of the image. But in general, I prefer expanding the canvas to match the print dimension and available mat and frames, and leaving black or white border. Maybe even use the border for a title or copyright sign.

BTW, I found this from another forum. People seem to be satisfied with them, and they sell 20x30 for $10, I think there's a two print minimum:

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