Canon 40D – Cropping in the Digital Age

Another great set of features found in the Canon 40D are it’s 10.1 megapixel sensor, it’s 14-bit RAW storage capability (providing 16,384 colors per channel) and it’s extremely low noise characteristics. Together, these features provide a very high quality and extremely sharp 3,888 x 2,592 pixel image.

It’s this incredible image size and quality that allow today’s digital photographers to bring back the lost art of post-capture cropping. Don’t get me wrong. Every photographer tries their best to compose for the final image during the shoot and today’s DSLR cameras with “Live View” make this much easier than in the past. Cropping in the darkroom during enlargement was always a difficult proposition but with 10.1 million pixels to work with, almost any image can be cropped for dramatic effect today.

Take the image below for example. When I composed this in my viewfinder I was looking to capture the man working, the beautiful wood texture of the cabin and the green of trees in the the background. As you can see, the dynamic range in this situation was much greater than the camera could capture and the sky in the background was almost completely blown out. There were also some other distracting elements in the background that took away from the 1830’s look I was hoping to capture.

Hard Working Man (As Shot)

Hard Working Man (As Shot)

When I returned from this shoot, I imported the RAW file into Lightroom and began trying out different crops to see what would work best. After creating several “Virtual Copies” in Lightroom and comparing my different cropping options, I finally settled on the crop shown here. 

Hard Working Man (As Cropped)

Hard Working Man (As Cropped)

Even though I had cropped away a significant portion of the original image, I was still able to show the highlights in the man’s clothing while retaining significant detail in the shadows. By cropping out all the extraneous information and focusing almost entirely on the man himself, I hoped to draw the viewers attention to his dark skin, his work-stained clothes and the wooden chair he was seated upon. I wanted the viewer to feel a sense of history from the final image.

So, how did I do?

Hard Working Man

Hard Working Man (Final)
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4 L at 40mm, f/5.6, 1/60th sec at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. Post processed in Adobe Lightroom 2 using the “Punch” preset.

2 thoughts on “Canon 40D – Cropping in the Digital Age

  1. It’s easy to forget just how much information is crammed into a 10 megapixel image and how much cropping and enlargement can be done before the image quality degrades. Doing something like this using 35mm film is extremely difficult due to the “grain” in the film.

  2. Wow, what a relevant post. I just had this same experience at the zoo last week. I shot this great black bull and when I looked at the image I shot, I realized how busy the background was and it just didn’t have the right effect I was hoping for. So I cropped it down to this image and I like it a lot better!

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