Cropping photos

Some people like to crop the photos they take, some don’t. I used to be in the second camp for a very long time. I would just never crop my photos, never change the aspect ratio. Only very rarely, when I needed to clean up the edges. But I changed my mind in the end. And today, I will share with you some of my reasons and thoughts about that.

To crop or not to crop

The biggest reason I never cropped my images before was that I always felt like I was losing something. I always tried to get the composition I wanted right in the camera. But over time I just found out this is not always possible. Especially when you start using prime lenses or some ultra wider or fisheye lenses, you will inevitably capture more than you want or need. And that makes for a lot of empty space, like the extra ground, extra empty sky, extra walls and so on, that just doesn’t make the photo better.

This is an example of this. This photo was taken with the fisheye lens, and the extra ground just added nothing to it. Removing it made the composition tighter, more focused on the subject of the photo. And yes, I removed the camera shadow in post-processing.

To crop or not to crop
To crop or not to crop

The second reason to not crop was that I like consistency. I like it too much. It just feels nice when you look through your photos and they all fit into a nice grid, all with a nice 4:3 ratio, perfectly aligned. I very rarely even took portrait shots, as they would not fit nicely. I know, it’s a strange reason. But then, when I started to do many vertoramas and panorama, this was no longer achievable at all. Every photo was different, everyone had a different aspect ratio in the end. So instead of my photos being consistent in size, now every single one is different. And I think it looks even better than before.

Almost each of my photos is now of a different aspect ratio.

To crop or not to crop

My last reason was the loos of quality. When you are shooting with a 12Mpix camera or even 22Mpix camera, cropping of half of the photo will degrade the quality quite a lot. But that’s really not the case anymore. Most of my photos now are 30Mpix to 100Mpix in size. I can crop away really a lot, and the quality is there. Also with the progress of the cameras and good sharp lenses, the quality of the photos is better, even if you zoom in. And with tools like Topaz Gigapixel AI, you can upscale you photo 2, 4 or even to 6 times the size, while still being of great quality. Gigapixel AI is probably the most impressive photo editing application I seen in a while.

This was a huge panorama, where I cropped really a lot from it. It’s still a huge image anyway.

To crop or not to crop
To crop or not to crop

In the end, it’s everybody’s own decision if to crop or not to crop your photos. But it’s much easier decision now than it was only a few years before.

Wallpapers

While looking through the stats of the blog, I can clearly see which photos are opened the most times. And no surprise there, the 4K and the super ultra-wide wallpapers are currently at the top all the time. Since the last time I updated the 4K selection, this time it’s time for the other one.

As always, these are all free for personal use and you can share them further, just link back to this blog. No commercial use without my permission.

Don’t forget to check out other available wallpapers:

Various super ultra-wide wallpapers

No single theme for the selection this time, just random various super ultra-wide wallpapers for you to download.

Super ultra-wide wallpapers 5120x1440px
Super ultra-wide wallpapers 5120x1440px
Super ultra-wide wallpapers 5120x1440px
Super ultra-wide wallpapers 5120x1440px

Wallpapers

I see each day in the blog stats that you, the visitors, are downloading wallpapers from the selection available. I’m glad you like them, and so I’m adding a few new ones today.

Don’t forget to check out other available wallpapers:

Landscape 4K wallpapers

Today all the new wallpapers are all landscapes, from Italy, Portugal and Austria. All are in 4K resolution of 3840×20160 and can be downloaded as always from the 4K wallpapers page here.

Landscape 4K wallpapers
Landscape 4K wallpapers
Landscape 4K wallpapers
Landscape 4K wallpapers

Raya Pro 4

I have been using the Raya Pro 4 toolbar to speed up my edits for a while now, so I thought I will create few guides for it. I shared one a few days ago on how to sharpen your photos with it for web and today I will show you how quickly blend two exposures. This is a quicker way of doing the same as I explain in my Luminosity masking tutorials, so if you don’t have Raya Pro 4, you can check out those here.

For more on Raya Pro 4, you can check out the official site here.

Simply blend two exposures with the help of Raya Pro 4

The whole process is very simple. First, you need two exposures you want to work with. To make the blend more realistic, they should be no more than 1-2 EV steps between them. If you have more, the transition after the blend won’t look natural (there are ways to fix that, but that’s for another guide).

These are the two exposures I will use here. One as a base and the second, darker one, from which I want to recover the bright areas.

Open both exposures in Photoshop as layers in the same file, – There are multiple ways you can do this, and you can find some of them here.
Put the darker exposure on top and hide it. – Since we need to create out a selection from the brighter exposure, we need to have only that one visible. So click on the eye icon next to the darker one and hide it.

Open the RP4 Instamask 3 panel (from the menu Window/Extensions/RP4 Instamask 3). – We will work with this panel, but only with few buttons of it.
Select the bright areas of the base photo. – Now we have to create our selection. Look at the 6 number next to B in the panel. Clicking on any of them will create a mask. 1 is the broadest selection of bright areas, 6 is the most restrictive. So just click on 1, see if it matches the areas you want to replace. If not, click on 2 and so on. In our example, the 2 matches the base photo the best.

Apply the mask. – You will see a new group with a layer in the layers window but ignore that. Instead, now just select the hidden darker layer and in the RP4 Instamask 3 panel just click on apply. This will add the mask to that layer and those extra ones will disappear.
Unhide the layer. – Now just unhide the darker layer and you are done.

What we actually did here, is to select all the brightest areas base on the bottom layer and then replaced them all from the top layer. One can go also the other way, have the darker image on the bottom, select the dark areas and then apply that selection to the bright ones.

One can use this also for more than 2 exposures, just hide all except the base one, follow this step to combine it with one. Once that is done, combine it again with another one. Since now already 2 layers are visible, your selection will be based on their combination.

If the blended areas look great, that means the difference between the photos was too big. You can try changing the opacity of the top layer, to make the transition softer. Editing the photos, so they are closer in appearance is another option. If you are working with RAW files, you can just jump in Camera RAW by double-clicking the layer and tweak them there.

Broken monitor

About a month or two ago, my big 34-inch monitor broke and I went from 34-inch + 24-inch monitor setup to a single 24-inch monitor. At first, it was such a big change to my PC setup, that I thought I will buy a new monitor very quickly. but now, that I have been working on the smaller one for a while, I don’t feel the need to get a new one. And I thought about, why is that?

Working on a smaller monitor

One get’s used to many things really quickly, but here are a few points, why a smaller monitor is good enough.

  • I have nothing to compare – when I had a 34 inch and a 24-inch monitor on my desk, the 24 felt really small. The reason is, our brain does not work in absolutes, it compares stuff. So now, when there is only one, there is nothing to compare it to, so it’s suddenly big enough.
  • It’s easier to focus on one task – I used to have different programs open on each monitor. Now with only one, when I open Photoshop, it’s full screen. I see nothing else and I focus solely on the one task. I find, that now I finish my editing quicker, free from distractions.
  • It’s big enough for Photoshop – recently I have been using almost exclusively only Photoshop to edit my photos. The monitor I use now is perfectly big enough for the tools I have open and to get an overview of the photo. If I did 3D modeling or video editing, this would probably be not the case, but with photos, it is so.
Working on a smaller monitor

I don’t know if I will get another big monitor again. When I got the other one, it was when I still used to play games on the PC. But I don’t anymore, so that’s one less reason to get it. And for work, I’m actually thinking of going the other way and replacing my PC with a notebook. For what I use it for, the difference would be minimal.

What size monitor do you use? And is it big enough? :)

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