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Demystifying the print crop

On Location, Knoxville, TN

Thursday, May 17, 2007
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In an effort to help everyone get the most from their photo prints, I want to post a little explanation on print ratios and crops.

The uncropped, full-frame files from my cameras are in a 4x6 ratio which is a very popular print size. To retain the entire composition in a photo, you would want to choose an equivalent ratio such as 20x30 for enlargements.

Unfortunately, the rest of the standard frame sizes in America don't share the same ratio. 8x10", for example, has a much more square shape. This means that cropping a 4x6 photo into an 8x10 will cut off a significant portion of the image. Depending on the image, this may or may not be a problem, but it's an important consideration when ordering enlargements.

To demonstrate the issue, I have created an example with lines showing where the photo would be cropped for the different print sizes. Due to the composition, this particular photo would still work in the various sizes, but you can see how much of the image will be lost.
Demystifying the print crop

Try to keep this in mind when choosing print sizes, and you can evaluate which images will look best when cropped. If a particular photo is going to present a problem, there are a few solutions:

1. You can order an odd sized print such as 8x12 and have it custom framed.

2. I can maintain the 4x6 ratio and just add a white or black border around the image so that it can be printed on the desired paper size without being cropped This would result in a quasi mat.

3. You can order a smaller size and add a real mat so that the image fits a standard frame.

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Welcome to the Nancy Hellsten Photography blog! This is the place to be if you’re looking for wedding ideas and photography promotions or if you just want to view some great photos and see what I’ve been up to. If you or someone you know are getting married, having a baby, or just want some relaxed portraits with the family, please visit my website or contact me for more information. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and check back often to see what’s new.
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