Now I love to photograph tight crops. The reason? The photograph is (normally) all about the subject and cluttered backgrounds detract, tight crops focus in on that subject and allow you to tell a different photograph. Granted there are times where you want the background as it in itself tells a story but I will often crop extremely close on other photos. With horses the story isn’t always about the head, sometimes it can be about a different aspect, a hoof, a tail or even a nostril! All of these can easily get lost if the shot is too wide.
You do have to keep in mind intended crop ratios when taking the photos and if not intending to print in 3×2 ratio then you will need to leave a bit of extra space when taking the photo.
I prefer to zoom in at the point of taking the photo as this will leave me with the best quality image, rather than cropping in post processing. This is fine and not normally an issue when shooting portraits or landscapes as the subject is slow moving (or not moving at all!), but with moving targets like horses, especially jumping ones, it makes your life far more tricky and you need to be confident where the subject will be moving and how fast, and even then they still do things to surprise you. If you are not confident you will fit the subject in shot, then zoom out slightly to give yourself some ‘wiggle’ room, then crop in post processing!
Here is the same fence photographed wide (at 200mm ish) and as a tight crop at 400mm. There is nothing essentially wrong with the wider shot but there is an unexciting background and the horse gets a bit lost. In the tight crop that background is lost in addition to a portion of the horse but the image is all about the combination.
The same works with people and details in the same way. Zoom in on what’s important and make it the subject of a photo.
For portrait shoots I will normally always be carrying two cameras one with a wide angle lens and the second with a longer zoom, this allows me to get wider ‘background’ shots and closer crops whilst not moving position.
These two images show two very different images, telling different stories but they were both taken from the same position just using different focal lengths.
So next time you’re out taking photos think about your crop. If you don’t have the luxury of a zoom lens then use your feet and get in closer (be careful around horses and other action sports, only go as close as is safe!).
For now here are some more close crops taken just this weekend….