…..it’s been a while since my last post as I haven’t had much to say, but, after viewing hundreds if not thousands of photographs online and prints, good/bad/indifferent, I noticed that the vast majority of the newer generation seem to be trapped by the format of the sensor in whatever camera they may be using. This I feel often leads to badly composed shots that could be good or even great with judicious cropping. Portraits that are spoiled by too much unnecessary info either on the top and bottom in ‘portrait’ format with the subject placed dead centre in the frame or the same problem in ‘landscape’ format. Now I’m not entering into the purist debate on whether cropping is over-manipulation or ‘cheating’. Much of the CC (constructive criticism) I see online is by those who have huge holes in their basic composition knowledge and are actually destructive critics. The “get it right in the camera” school, in my opinion, is just wrong as far as composition is concerned. The limitations of the sensor shape/size frequently makes it impossible to get the composition right. The choice of format and proportions has always been and still are the foundations of good/great/excellent/superb composition and are of equal importance to light/shade/colour and Depth of Field/Focus in creating a perfect composition. In the ‘old’ days we had different format cameras with some of the most famous being Hasselblad, Rollei, Mamiya which were all square format with 6×6 cm negatives and today all work with digital backs. There were also 4″x5″ and 8″x!0″ film and plate camera. Another limitation is the size/shape of printing papers. Since the introduction the Leica 35mm camera in 1925 and other rangefinder cameras with fixed lenses to be followed in the 60ies by a plethora of affordable single-lens reflex cameras with inter-changeable lenses and the 35mm (24x36mm 2:3 ratio) which overwhelmingly became the most used format, cropping has always been part and parcel of composition. The inter-changeable lenses and/or zooms allowed an infinity of crops and changes in perspective, but still were limited to format shape of the negative so this was dealt with in the darkroom, whilst fitting the negative to incompatible paper sizes led to cropping the frame or wasting paper, thus cropping was/is not a blasphemy. Some models of contemporary digital cameras give a choice of full sensor or square format in-camera. there is are many different sensor sizes and shapes. To me a sign of the importance of cropping is the fact that in practically all of the myriad editing programs, from the most professional/sophisticated to the simplest, the crop tool is one of the very first tools available in the work-flow. So my bottom line is cropping is a historically legitimate tool and is essential to better composition alongside proportion, content, DoF, light/shade, colour and/or grayscale.