To crop or not?

Pygmy Owl
Pygmy Owl

Amongst bird photographers there is a tendency to show the bird as large as possible in the frame. If they can’t get any closer, they will just crop the image until it don’t show much more. With the current cameras this is well possible. I’m not one of those photographers. I do like to have some space in my picture, to show some of its habitat, or in this case just a nice background of leaves.

The Pygmy Owl spent quite some time in his tree hole. He probably had a food stash in there. We just stood there, waiting, until he popped his head out, looking at that strange crowd with all sorts of lenses pointed at him. It proved an interesting sight, as he came back looking at us several times.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.


    • Which is exactly the point I try to make in the post 🙂 I decided not to, because of the nice background and the size of the bird itself.
      Thanks for the comment though 🙂


  • I like this very much as is; it makes how hard the owl is to see part of the story of the picture. There are plenty of “Hey, here’s a selectively-saturated owl” photos out there.


  • That’s a tough call, and I think that I could fall on either side of the cropping question, depending on my mood. One thing is certain–that is a remarkable shot of a cool-looking creature.


  • I make it a point to frame the photograph of wildlife as best I can and in principle of showing the entire photograph that I took, I very rarely crop a photograph. My only reason for doing so would be to show some finer detail in relation to feathers or a pattern on a butterfly wing. Never to make it look like the bird is larger. I agree with you that too many people crop shots rathe than focus on framing it well in the first place.


  • I forgot to write that I like your photograph very much. I think it is part of the viewing experience to be made to look twice to see the owl. When you do see it, you then appreciate how well camouflaged it is, as well as how beautiful it is. You also get to see the texture of the bark – I enjoy looking at trees and the variations in bark too. Great photo. Lisa


  • I really like this image as is. I think you picked a great image to illustrate your point. It would not have the same impact cropped but it would probably still be a great picture because this owl is a wonderful subject.


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