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Cropping – how much is too much

Pretty much everyone these days know that a decent post-processing software is a necessity. In my opinion you even need to do a bit in software for family snapshots, even if using a free software. One of the biggest uses of this software is cropping, so you can attempt to straighten and / or bring more interest to the photo. This can be by moving the subject to a “thirds” line or removing unwanted objects from the frame.

But… How much is too much. When do you run into the bounds of resolution or practicality and should crop no more. Take the following example. I took this snapshot with a 12 megapixel point and shoot camera:

I didn’t like that the engine was surrounded by the road and all the other modern stuff. I also didn’t like that I hadn’t zoomed in at all on that shot. For the next shot I had done a much better job of filling the frame but by then the engine had moved farther into all of the obstructions, so that was the best I had to work with.

So, what could I do? Crop. So I cropped the heck out of the shot. I cut way more out of that picture than I think is practical but I am starting to get happy with the results. With this subject the added graininess actually enhances the picture for me.

So, what do you think, was it worth it or should I give up on having a nice shot of that engine until the next time I get to Mt. Ranier (which will be a while since I now live in Florida)?