This is a simple postprocessing technique but requires an in-depth look as to how it can fit into your photography. I will use Sony cameras as examples, but of course other camera systems are similar. And the focus of this discussion will be on resolution (inherent in 35mm film), which is one of the most important characteristics of good photography except in cases when you forego the sharpness of high resolution for other photographic effects.

Most experts tell us that a 10-12 MP (megapixel) camera is the equivalent for resolution of a 35mm film camera. Indeed, Sony’s original top-of-the-line fast-action camera (A7S – made to maximize multiple frame shooting rather than large frame size) had only 12 MP and cost 20% more than Sony’s then current top-of-the-line general purpose camera (A7R) with 36 MP. With a 36MP camera you can get about three times the area of a film-equivalent photograph and still have the resolution of 35mm film for each third. That means you can crop 67% away and still have a full size 35mm-film equivalent photograph (and 35mm-film sharpness). In other words, the more MPs the merrier. MPs matter for cropping.

For starters, let’s dispose of the Haiku philosophy of photographic art. It goes something like this. Photographs must be traditional rectangles (with unequal adjacent sides and a limited selection of aspect ratios) so as to impose the proper aesthetic discipline for creating fine art. That’s like saying a poem must be a Haiku poem in order to be considered fine art. A Haiku poem has three sentences with 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables respectively. And it’s a traditional form. But I don’t think Haiku defines poetry. And likewise, traditional rectangles (frames) don’t define fine art photography.

Indeed, cropping is the new aesthetic freedom. Cropping used to be done in the darkroom, which made it somewhat limited and generally unavailable to most photographers. Now it’s done in digital postprocessing and is quite easy for anyone to do. Even fun. Beyond just cropping and adjusting the sides of a rectangle, one can even create a photograph of any shape in postprocessing using various software techniques.

What are the considerations for cropping?

  • You don’t have to be so careful framing your photos. In fact, if you overshoot a photograph (take a photograph larger than the frame you seek), you can easily crop it to your specifications more precisely in postprocessing.
  • If hurried, you can simply point and shoot; and crop later.
  • If something is in the photo you don’t want, you may be able to crop it out.
  • Upon review, you may find a photograph within the photograph that you find more aesthetically appealing than the overall. You can crop it out.



  • You can create various shapes of photographs in postprocessing, such as circles, ovals, triangles, and custom forms.
  • If you crop to an odd shape, you can have a metal print service provider cut the print into the shape (e.g., MagnaChrome, Concord, California has a computer-guided metal cutter that can do so).
  • With enough MPs, you can crop away a substantial portion of a photograph and still have enough left for a resulting sharp film-equivalent photograph.
  • You can crop away the upper third and the lower third of a one wide-angle landscape photograph to make a panorama.



  • You can make different versions of the same photograph (different crops).
  • You can set a crop to a certain preset aspect ratio and print a photo that will fit into a certain size off-the-shelf (prebuilt) frame.
  • You can set a crop to a certain preset aspect ratio and create a photo that will fit snuggly into a photo collage.
  • You can use any lens as a non-optical telephoto lens by cropping away all but the small portion of a photo.
  • You can often crop to correct mistakes that you make. There are so many ways to make mistakes, even for the best photographers, that cropping capability becomes quite valuable.

How about a practical example. Sony now has a 61 MP 35mm-type camera (A7R IV). Is that too many MPs for ordinary use? No. How about using this Sony camera with a super sharp 50mm lens (e.g., Sony-Zeiss 55mm f1.8). Do you also need a telephoto lens? Or can you crop out a one-sixth portion of a 50mm-lens digital photograph and use it as a film-equivalent photograph? Something to think about.

Digital cropping brings a bonanza of new techniques to use to create all sorts of appealing photographs and to help define new opportunities in photography. That’s why MPs are important. The more MPs your camera sensor has, the more flexibility you have for cropping.


Tips for Naming Fine Art Photos

by Joseph T. Sinclair

Vrille Naturel
Vrille Naturel ©Joseph T. Sinclair

Names Matter

In the best of all possible worlds, a fine art photo shouldn’t have a name. The art should speak for itself. When you add a name, however, the words become part of the work of art, like it or not. And words are powerful. Unfortunately, in Western civilization there is unwritten pressure to name works of art. Rembrandt Kunstwerk 112 is not very satisfying. Consequently, you do need to create a name and understand that the name itself becomes part of your photographic art.

Yet most career photographers need to sell their fine art. And marketing is a different matter than art. Most photographers need a marketing element in the names for their photos. Thus, a thoughtful combination of poetry and ad copy is a good way to think of naming photos. If you’re serious about your art and about selling it, naming it is not a trivial task.

Don’t Fall in Love with It

Don’t fall in love with a name. Pick a name that fits the theme of the show you want to enter. As a consequence, a photo may end up with more than one name (i.e., entered in more than one show). This is extra work, but it’s more work to find a good photo that matches a show theme.

Translate It

If you can’t think of a good name, pick a pedestrian name. Then translate it into French on Google. No one will understand it, yet it will add a touch of elegance to your photo. Or use Spanish, Italian, Romanian, or Portuguese. But no other languages, please. I named one of my photos Vrille Naturel (French) and was happy to do so. Sounds kind of cool, but I can’t remember what it means. It would be přírodní kontury in Czech, not quite so engaging.

Make It Long

Make it a long name. If properly imagined, it can add a lot to your photo. But capitalize the first letter of each word. Otherwise it might be read as a caption, not as a name. Example: Candle-Lit Impressionist Color Portraiture Study of a Mother on a Theme by Sandro Botticelli. Otherwise you might have to name it Madonna confusing it with the Rabelaisian pop star.

Steal It

If you run across good names in photo shows or in publications, write them down for future use. No one can copyright art titles. But don’t steal from photographers in your own geographic area or in your own photo organizations. Bad manners. And don’t steal famous names (e.g., Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico). Fatuous. You can steal book titles and song titles too (neither are copyrightable).

Photographers steal images; how many times is the image of the sun’s rays streaming down through the haze into Antelope Canyon taken each day by different professional photographers? Answer: about eight dozen. That’s about 35,000 professional photographers a year who shoot in Antelope Canyon.  So, why not steal names too?

BTW, if you’re looking for a name for your Antelope Canyon photo, try this one: About Noonish in Mr. Slot Canyon. That’s a good one, and you can steal it from me.

A Gift from the Literary World

Advertisers use sex to sell. Why not photographers? Check out Writers in the Storm, a blog for novelists. It provides a huge list of common words in its Sensual Word Menu that may suggest sex:

You can use most of them in your photo names with complete innocence and without seeming indecent. Example: Sultry Sunset Afterglow on the Bosom of the  Mountain. Buyers will line up at the door.

Less Can Be More

There is one naming strategy for fine art portraits. Use only a first name such as Isabelle or Jacob. Such names convey an ambiance of mystery. Who the hell is Isabelle? Who the hell is Jacob? It’s not quite the same ambiance for Isabelle Smith or Jacob Jones. Let the viewer’s imagination run loose. Let the image itself do the speaking. Use only a first name alone. Keep in mind also that for fine art, the name of the portrait doesn’t have to be same as the name of the subject (model). In other words, use an evocative first name that fits the portrait.

Number It

This highly advanced promotional technique is appropriate only for the most aggressive photo marketers. A photo named Study of the Desert Sublime Number 17, if a compelling image, will leave the viewers thirsty for photos 1-16 (or more). It’s irrelevant whether numbers 1-16 exist or not. If such photos exist, they will have the attention of your viewers and may lead to interest in your other photos too. If photos 1-16 don’t exist, you simply represent 1-16 as being unpublished, and refer viewers to your other photos.


Developers and municipalities name streets after states (Idaho Avenue), places (Park Place), English counties (Devonshire Drive), famous people (Ted Kaczynski Boulevard), and animals (Raccoon Court). This is not a good precedent for naming photos. Leave it alone.

May Photo Talk & Coffee

coffee and cameraJoin us at 9 AM, Thursday, May 24 for coffee (or breakfast) at Cafe Colorado for our (almost) monthly Photo Talk & Coffee.

Bring some photos to share & discuss, either digital or prints. We will talk about photography, summer outings, and other topics, as determined by the group. Also, please bring your signed waiver for the Cumbres & Toltec outing on May 25 (or return by email earlier).

Cafe Colorado is at 565 Village Dr, just off Highway 160 west of Piñon Lake and east of McDonalds.

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