Fundamentals of Photography


Lesson Info

Cropping Your Images

Going in and cropping your photographs after the fact. I always try to shoot as best I can in camera but there are times when I need to get in and control things later on. And there's a number of reasons why I'm gonna crop an image. And sometimes I think it just looks better with a certain different frame line. Maybe it's wider angle. In this case, I think a square image looks really nice. The first and obvious time to crop an image is when you just have a lot of extra space that's not helping you out. And so get rid of that extra space if you don't really need it and it's not really helping out in the photograph. This is one of my favorite photos and I feel really good that I got this photo. But I got to admit to you, this isn't really the photo I captured. Here's the photo that I really captured. I wasn't as close, I had the camera slightly tilted and I had to go in and crop that image a little bit to get that right moment. I did have it focused and exposed and timed right but I need...

ed a little bit of help in the cropping system to really get it back. Sometimes there are slight little distractions. I didn't really notice that blue poster in the upper left-hand corner, when I shot it. It was a very quick moment. I got a couple of shots and that was it. And if I don't like it, you know, I'm gonna get in and crop that out and just clean that corner up a little bit. There's a lot of things that happen when you're out shooting in the field. In the right-hand corner, it just gets a little bit bright for me. And I'm gonna bring that in just a shade, just to knock out some of that extra bright area that doesn't help the photograph off. I didn't get this exactly as symmetrical as I had intended. So it just required a slight little crop to make sure that I got it correct in here. I had to shoot this will a little bit of extra because I was trying to get some of the heighth and width. And the format of the camera that I was shooting didn't really fit the format of what I wanted to do with this. And so I ended up having to shoot a little bit more and then go back in and crop it later on. One of the things that is most disturbing, at least to me, is unlevel horizons. And so it's something that just shouldn't be done unless there is a really good intention and purpose to it. So make sure that you get that right in your cropping process. We'll talk about direction tomorrow in the composition section. And so I like to have a little bit more space in front of my vehicle that's moving down the street. And this is a bit of a radical crop in the sense that I'm cropping in quite a bit and I'm throwing away a lot of pixels. This is a hard subject to get. There's a lot of moving things goin' on when this is happening. And so I've gone from a 42 megapixel, in this case, down to a 29 megapixel image. So I've thrown away a bit of image in this case. It's still very usable for a lot of different things. But this is why you want to try to shoot as best you can out in the field. Another thing to think about is the aspect ratio because we all have cameras that have a very specific aspect ratio and it varies. And so let's talk a little bit about the aspect ratio in our cameras. Full frame cameras and 1.5 crop frame cameras have a 1 to 1.5 aspect ratio. The phones, a lot of the point and shoots, and the Micro 4/3 system use a 4:3 aspect ratio which is a little bit boxier than the 1 to 1.5. It's good to know what you're shooting and what you plan to do with your images and what your needs are in your aspect ratio for what you're going to be doing. I remember working back in the days at the camera store and we actually sold frames. And we'd do prints and we'd have frames. And every once in a while, someone would come in and they would get an 8 by 10 photo or they would get an 8 by 10 frame and then they would get an enlargement from their film. They would go, I want everything enlarged. And then it doesn't fit in here, can you print it so it fits? It's like, well, I can stretch the image but you may not be happy. The only way that we're gonna get it in there is we're gonna have to crop it into a slightly different image because it's a different aspect ratio. Aspect ratio, I don't want to know about math, just print my photo. You got to know about these things if you want things to fit properly in the right place. And so the 3 by 2, or 1 by 1.5 is a very common aspect ratio. 4 by 3, the Micro 4/3, this is what a lot of our phones are, and a lot of other point-and-shoot cameras are in here. But we also have squares, which are kind of nice as well. Then we have 5 by 4 which is 8 by 10 equivalent. 5 by 7s, those are also popular here. Right now you're watching 16 by 9 screens which is a HD video so you have to be thinking about all these different aspect ratios, what are you shooting in, and what are you going towards? Now I got to tell you, this is an issue very close to my heart because I shoot full frame cameras but most of my work is seen here on the screen that you're looking at right now which is 16 by 9 aspect ratio. And so I am sometimes at a loss. Do I show you the whole photo? Or should I fill the frame and really give you the full video experience. And so in this class, I've done a bit of both. Sometimes I like my images full 16 by 9, other times, like if I'm trying to show you cropping, I am showing you the exact whole frame that I see in the camera. So you do have to be very careful about shooting and not shooting too tight. One option is to shoot very tight but if you shoot very tight and the you need to put this in a 16 by 9 frame, you need that extra space that you forgot to shoot. And so shooting a little loose can be very, very handy if you're gonna be cropping and doing something different with this than the aspect ratio of your particular camera. I do have favorite aspects for different systems. For vertical, I think the 3 by 2 aspect ratio is too tall and skinny for most things. And in this class, most of the vertical images that I am going to show you are 5 by 7 in its aspect ratio. I think it's easier to see. 5 by 4, a little too square for me but that's an 8 by 10. And each of those images are gonna look a little different when you project 'em into those frames. So be aware of what those frames are gonna look like and that's one of the reasons for shooting a second shot a little backed off of the first shot. Now when it gets down to horizontal frames, the phones, point and shoots will shoot in a 4 by 3 aspect ratio which is kinda squarish. Our full frame cameras are gonna shoot in a 1 by 1.5 aspect ratio. 16 by 9 is a little bit wider. And then you can go to any number you want. I kinda like to try to keep it in whole numbers, 2 by 1 if I want a bit more of a panoramic image. And so this is very easy to do. If you remember the tilt shift lenses where I was shooting panoramics, I usually end up with about a 2 to 1 panoramic out of that. Now I'm also a big fan of the movies and movie standards are right around this. So the movie standards are gonna be typically 1.85 to for what is called wide screen and then there is ultra wide screen which is 2.39 to 1, which is right around that 2 to 1 ratio. So if you like that cinematic look, you can try for images in that aspect ratio. And then from time to time, you'll have some even longer purposes and it really depends on what you are doing with your image as far as how wide you want to make it. And so just be aware of aspect ratios and in most programs, you can go in and set standards. And so one of my standards that I develop my photos to is 16 by 9 because I want it to appear full frame on my computer screen or on a monitor like this in a classroom. And so sometimes it's nice having those panoramic images for cropping as far as a reason why you want to crop your images. Sometimes you're just trying to maximize the space and the standard frame just doesn't fit for you and you need more from side-to-side. And so doing a panorama stitch or cropping the top and bottom a little bit is something that I think is perfectly fine to do. There are different philosophies. I know there is somebody I was watching here at CreativeLive who doesn't like images that are cropped out of the standard frame. And you know, everybody's different. And so I think, one of the things is that everybody expects to see that standard 1 by 1.5 frame and when you give 'em something different like this, sometimes people don't know what's different. They just know it's different and they like the fact that it feels different in that regard. Square pictures have made a comeback in recent years. And so square is a very beautiful way of presenting a camera and so look for squares. Think about it, a lot of cameras will now have crop marks that you can turn on for seeing that square right in the camera. It's one of the reasons why I love mirrorless cameras, is that you can turn on crops that you actually see and work with. Some of the SLRs you can do it as well. But with the mirrorless cameras, they can completely block out everything else and you can just view through the viewfinder in a square which is really nice. In this case, I just wanted to crop out some of the bottom just to add a little bit of mystery as to the exact nature of the falls and the landscape around it. And so cropping an image can give it a new look. And so I often like images that have a little bit wider look to it. It just gives it that different feel that is different than the standard photographer who just uploaded the full image that they got from the camera. And so think about these things when you wanna change your aspect ratio.

As a photographer, you will need to master the technical basics of the camera and form an understanding of the kind of equipment you need. The Fundamentals of Digital Photography will also teach something even more important (and crucial for success) - how to bring your creative vision to fruition.

Taught by seasoned photographer John Greengo, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography places emphasis on quality visuals and experiential learning. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image: shutter speed, aperture, and image composition.
  • How to choose the right gear, and develop efficient workflow.
  • How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light.

John will teach you to step back from your images and think critically about your motivations, process, and ultimate goals for your photography project. You’ll learn to analyze your vision and identify areas for growth. John will also explore the difference between the world seen by the human eye and the world seen by the camera sensor. By forming an awareness of the gap between the two, you will be able to use your equipment to its greatest potential.


Class Introduction
Photographic Characteristics
Camera Types
Viewing System
Lens System
Shutter System
Shutter Speed Basics
Shutter Speed Effects
Camera & Lens Stabilization
Quiz: Shutter Speeds
Camera Settings Overview
Drive Mode & Buffer
Camera Settings - Details
Sensor Size: Basics
Sensor Sizes: Compared
The Sensor - Pixels
Sensor Size - ISO
Focal Length
Angle of View
Practicing Angle of View
Quiz: Focal Length
Fisheye Lens
Tilt & Shift Lens
Subject Zone
Lens Speed
Depth of Field (DOF)
Quiz: Apertures
Lens Quality
Light Meter Basics
Quiz: Histogram
Dynamic Range
Exposure Modes
Sunny 16 Rule
Exposure Bracketing
Exposure Values
Quiz: Exposure
Focusing Basics
Auto Focus (AF)
Focus Points
Focus Tracking
Focusing Q&A
Manual Focus
Digital Focus Assistance
Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF)
Quiz: Depth of Field
DOF Preview & Focusing Screens
Lens Sharpness
Camera Movement
Advanced Techniques
Quiz: Hyperfocal Distance
Auto Focus Calibration
Focus Stacking
Quiz: Focus Problems
Camera Accessories
Lens Accessories
Lens Adaptors & Cleaning
Flash & Lighting
Being a Photographer
Natural Light: Direct Sunlight
Natural Light: Indirect Sunlight
Natural Light: Mixed
Twilight: Sunrise & Sunset Light
Cloud & Color Pop: Sunrise & Sunset Light
Silhouette & Starburst: Sunrise & Sunset Light
Golden Hour: Sunrise & Sunset Light
Quiz: Lighting
Light Management
Flash Fundamentals
Built-In & Add-On Flash
Off-Camera Flash
Off-Camera Flash For Portraits
Advanced Flash Techniques
Editing Assessments & Goals
Editing Set-Up
Importing Images
Organizing Your Images
Culling Images
Categories of Development
Adjusting Exposure
Remove Distractions
Cropping Your Images
Composition Basics
Point of View
Angle of View
Subject Placement
Framing Your Shot
Foreground & Background & Scale
Rule of Odds
Bad Composition
Multi-Shot Techniques
Pixel Shift, Time Lapse, Selective Cloning & Noise Reduction
Human Vision vs The Camera
Visual Perception
Quiz: Visual Balance
Visual Drama
Elements of Design
Texture & Negative Space
Black & White & Color
The Photographic Process
Working the Shot
What Makes a Great Photograph?


  • Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.
  • I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!
  • Wow! John is THE best teacher I have ever had the pleasure of learning from, and this is the most comprehensive, eloquent and fun course I have ever taken (online or off). If you're even <maybe> / <slightly> / <a tiny little bit> interested in photography, take this course as soon as possible! You might find out that taking great photos requires much more work than you're willing to invest, or you might get so excited learning from John that you'll start taking your camera with you EVERYWHERE. At the very least, you'll learn the fundamental inner workings and techniques that WILL help you get a better photo. Worried about the cost? Well, I've taken courses that are twice as expensive that offer less than maybe a tenth of the value. You'll be much better off investing in this course than a new camera or a new lens. I cannot reccomend John and this course enough!