Cropping a Portrait Photograph

It’s always good to keep in touch with the progress of the photographers who come on my Photography Courses.

Photography Course student IreneIrene Dunton came to my Photography Weekend Break here in Kirkcudbright last October and she wants to follow this up by coming on a Photography Holiday to Menorca.

Just before Irene came on the Photography Weekend she had started a Level One City & Guilds Photography Course and is looking forward to moving on to Level Two later this year. Irene has now volunteered to take photographs at a reading & literacy event at  a local London school and is hoping that her photographs will appear on the charity’s website.

This is all very good news and a great example for any keen photographer wanting to extend their knowledge and boost their confidence behind the camera.

Irene also sent me a couple of her portrait shots this morning.

That’s Irene pictured above hard at work with her Sony A380 during her Photography Weekend Break.

I particularly liked the shot of her friend, which, Irene says:

Photography Courses - portrait uncropped

Irene's original portrait of her friend. Photograph by Irene Dunton

“Was taken on a sunny afternoon in my front room which has a north-facing window and the light reflects off the houses on the other side of the street, and I used a reflector – I’m sure I had it white but the reflected light seems quite golden so that could be either I had the gold cover on and I have a memory like a sieve or it is from the sunlight coming through the kitchen door!”

Gold Reflector?
Well, Irene, I’m guessing that you may well have used the gold side of that reflector judging by the angle of the golden glow on your subject’s cheek. It’s really given a pleasant, warm effect.

I felt that Irene portrait could really benefit from a little careful editing and I did a few quick adjustments in Photoshop.

Firstly I corrected the Levels a tad, then cropped out some of the background.

I then cloned out the distracting wallpaper border and vignetted the image a little by using the eye-dropper tool to copy a dark green from the shadow of the subject’s jacket and, with a large paint brush at just 10% opacity I painted in the vignette.

Photography Course - Irene Dunton portrait

Irene's photograph after a little adjustment to the crop - you must have a good, sound portrait photograph to start with to make a crop successful. Photograph by Irene Dunton

Why Crop the Portrait?
With a straightforward and simple portrait like this I feel that the viewer’s eye should be concentrated on the sitter’s face and unless there is real value in the background – for instance if it is putting the subject in context – then it is best cut down.

It is important to remember that even the most intelligent of crops cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

In this case the portrait was a good, sound image to begin with and well worth a little editing.

Irene’s portrait was taken with her Sony A380

  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter Speed: 1/8sec
  • Aperture: f/4
  • Lens: 70mm
Keep up the good work Irene and we look forward to seeing you on a Photography Holiday in Menorca

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