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It’s OK to Crop | How I Got the Shot

As I was photographing a Cross Country race, we were hit by a heavy Florida rain storm. Luckily I had shelter under a tarp. I watched the high school kids performed like true athletes, they didn’t let rain or a mud filled track slow them down. I wasn’t about to let a rain storm deprive the kids of their photos. I had to quickly rethink my game plan knowing I could only shoot from a stationary position. This is how I got the shot.

Quick settings overview

  • Nikon D700
  • Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens
  • Shot at
    • f/2.8
    • 1/800 sec shutter speed
    • AUTO ISO
    • -.07 EV (exposure compensation)

Keeping the camera in manual mode, I locked down the aperture and shutter settings. This left ISO as a floating variable. I set the camera to AUTO ISO and let it intelligently select it for me. Due to the weather, I knew the sensor could get fooled so I set my exposure compensation to a minus 0.7. This freed my mind from thinking technical. I was able to rip frames knowing I had a proper exposure.

Low Angle of View Plus Crop

Although I had a 200mm lens, I still wasn’t close enough. I couldn’t move due to the rain so I had to make due. I didn’t want the images to all look the same so I changed up my angle of shooting and kept the shots wide. If I waited for the runners to reach me before I took the shot, I may have missed the action. Don’t be afraid to take wide shots knowing you can crop in post.

Cropping can change the story

I shot these images for the players NOT for editorial use. If I shot for a magazine I would have to make sure the images told the correct story. The cropped image was cropped for impact, the other is straight from the camera. The crop image shows the girl in first place, the full image tells a different story. As photographers we have to know when it’s ok to crop. If you are shooting for an editorial piece, you have to make sure your image tells the real story. If you are shooting for a team or client, crop away.

What Would I Try Differently?

Its always important to learn from each shoot. Here are a few things I would want to try or improve on for the next shoot:

I would have used a 2x teleconverter turning my 200mm into a 400mm lens. My f/stop would change to f/5.6 and my ISO would increase but it would have saved me time in post when cropping. I should have checked the weather before we left. If I had prepared properly, I would have used a rain jacket for my camera. This would have allowed me to roam free when shooting.

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