Alert readers may have noticed that I am lately fond of the 16:9 ratio in processing photos.  You can read all about it here. Lightroom offers it as a standard crop along with 5×7 and 8×10.  Anyone who has bought a new TV in the last 7 years watch this format.  My cell phone uses close to a 16:9 format as well.  I think this format has more visual impact than a full frame DSLR format for some subjects.  It’s great for landscapes but it can be very effective for detail work, too.

Of course, using this ratio means you will likely have to crop your photo and that’s where a hi res, low noise file comes in handy.  There are purists who would never crop and try to get the perfect crop in camera.  I admire those folks that can achieve that perfect crop in camera.  It’s how I was taught to use a camera a few years ago.  My own instinct is to crop in camera.  But I’m not a purist and I think many photos can be made better with the right cropping.  Sometimes you may discover photos within your photos.





Coming soon: 1:1!


24 thoughts on “16:9

  1. disperser

    I crop the crap out of everything. I have a photographer friend who says he never crops (he does weddings and portraits) and I can understand it shortens his workflow.

    However, my logic is thus:

    The most accurate metering and focus (based on what I am reading) is at the center of the frame. Most lenses fall off as one goes off center. It seems like a no-brainer to me (but then some say I have no brains) . . . put whatever you are interested in in the center of the frame.

    I leave room for artistic composition via cropping. The other way would have me constantly changing the focusing point to accommodate particular compositions. My motto is to fiddle as little as possible with the camera when shooting.

    By the way, still like that first shot a lot.

    1. oneowner Post author

      I don’t think cropping is as evil as some photographers would have you think. A lot of the compositions I see everyday could benefit from proper cropping. I crop photos from my point and shoot, too, but I don’t think they would stand up to a large format print as well as the Nikon.

  2. harrienijland

    These three do very well in a 16:9, Ken. Nothing wrong with a good crop. Often you don’t have enough time for a perfect framing when you’re outside. I sometimes take shots with the Lightroom-possibilities in mind. I love the colours in the first shot.

      1. harrienijland

        (The perspective control in Lightroom is under ‘Lens Corrections’ – ‘Basic’ and/or ‘Manual’; in case you didn’t know yet) Cheers!

    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Monte. Cropping can be challenging but it’s one of the most important things in post processing. It’s really a very creative tool.

  3. John

    I talked about this in Visual Notebook in my “To Crop or Not To Crop” post on the 16th of June. I think there’s a lot of misplaced pride in those who think never cropping is the only way to go. I crop probably 80 percent of my shots in one way or another and as Disperser points out above the best part of the image is near the middle anyway due to light and focus issues

    All good shots, Ken but that first one is a stunner!

    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, John. I agree, cropping is one of the most important aspects of processing and one of the least respected. The only time cropping can be a bad idea is if a very large print is desired and you need all the resolution you can get.

  4. mark

    Whatever gets the result you want. It’s your photo. And I’m rather fond of 16:9 also. The soon-to-be-defunct Aperture has also included it as a standard ratio.

  5. Malin H

    You are absolutely right Ken – sometimes you discover photos within your photos.
    I really like your detail photography… Excellent images and great post!

  6. Rondje

    Hello Ken,
    Definitely works for these images, although I think the first could do with a little extra space above the main subject. Most of the time I try to frame my photos the way I want it, so I don´t need any cropping, but definitely not against using it. You have to be aware that, like you said, the quality of the image has to be really good! But it is especially with reviewing old images you can find new surprises!
    Great post, greetings, Ron.

    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Ron. I agree, cropping out 1/3 of an image can really change it and sometimes the change can be very unpleasant if it can’s maintain a decent resolution. Care must be taken for sure but there are great rewards for the intrepid.

  7. LensScaper

    I like the 16:9 format too but I never really crop to precise figures. I crop to what looks right to my eye. My G10 has a different ratio to my Nikon strangely. It puzzles me that some people think the shape of the image that comes out of the camera is sacrosanct. I’m sure that a photographer didn’t determine the shape – it was a scientist for some reason or other.
    I love the ornaments – especially the first one, looks Art Deco-ish.

    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Andy. When I was printing negatives, I always made the first print full frame. From there I could visualize any cropping I thought would improve the composition. Sometimes there were pleasant surprises awaiting. I had learned to cut my own mats, so I was not restricted to any ratio and I really grew to like that freedom.

      1. LensScaper

        Yes, it was a lot harder visualizing the final print on the enlarger’s baseboard when viewing a negative. And I too had a whole set of masks of different sizes I used to crop prints. We have a lot in common, Ken

      2. Steve Schwartzman

        In the 1970s and 80s there were plenty of “serious” photographers who insisted on always showing everything that was in their negatives, which amounts to saying that they never cropped. They even made a fetish of filing away the edges of their enlargers’ negative carriers so there’d be traces of sprocket holes around their prints, proof that viewers were looking at the whole frame.

        As I see it (and saw it then too), a camera has whatever aspect ratio it has, but reality doesn’t come in fixed ratios. We can try our best to fill the frame in a pleasing way, but what’s interesting in a scene may refuse to be bound by an arbitrary ratio—and that’s where cropping comes in.

      3. oneowner Post author

        I agree, Steve. I could crop ruthlessly if I thought a composition would be improved as long as other technical aspects were maintained.

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