I’m a firm believer in saving time by composing the shot on the front end rather than later, and the purist in me is a bit obsessive about it. My first 20 years of learning photography, the only cropping I got was whatever the lab needed to make it fit the print size proportions, and that got frustrating at times.
To get the full frame as I shot it, and to avoid unwelcome adjustments to light and color made during printing, I started shooting my “serious” stuff strictly with slide film. Gone were the days of the lab staff (or the printing machine) deciding what I intended when I tripped the shutter. This helped me learn.
I abandoned slide film by buying a film scanner and shooting print film, then having it processed “negatives only.” That significantly cut costs but put all of the work back on me. It almost hurts me to type this, but I glad when I was able to put film and all its dust spots and scratches behind me.
The other side of that was that practicing photography was no longer limited to those willing to divert personal funds to film and processing costs. Contributing largely to that was giving a darkroom to those who never could have afforded one before digital, and after years of longing for the newspaper’s full darkroom in my intern days, I liked that benefit.
All one needed was that initial camera and software purchase — and time. It was even cheaper with free software like the Gimp.
The adjustments to light and dark, and to color, gave me little pause, but that cropping thing kept nagging me. The pros I worked with at the newspaper sometimes had to crop shots to fit the space available, but they were adamant about preserving the full frame whenever possible.
Lost of photos posted on personal websites were cropped and zoomed in the editing phase. I got a little validation knowing that those looked fine on the screen, but that the prints often suffered. As megapixel counts skyrocketed, however, one could produce a fairly nice print even after massive cropping.
“Print? What’s a print?”
Yes, I know that the photographer still has to know composition in order to do a good job of cropping. For some reason it bothered me that so much of the skillset was shifting from what one does behind the camera to what one does at the computer screen.
Many would argue that I’m trying to apply photojournalistic standards to art, and I understand that point. If two photos look identical, then why should the viewer care whether or not one was cropped? For the photographer, it can mean the difference between owning a $300 lens or a $3,000 lens.
For the above I used a lens I bought used for $90.
Nikon 200mm f/4 manual