Nature walks are a great way to get to know your shooting equipment. The variety of elements that you encounter, from the landscape to plants and animals, keep you on your toes and constantly adjusting to get new shots. These walks always prove to be a great test of the flexibility of your camera and lens combination.
I am lucky enough to live down the street from the Plainsboro Preserve in Plainsboro, NJ. The preserve has all sorts of great environment types to experience across over 5 miles of trails. One of my favorite parts of the preserve is a trail along the shoreline of the 50-acre McCormack Lake.
I usually shoot with my trusty 24-120mm, being able to zoom often prevents shots being missed. With the 24-120mm, I’ve found that I can pretty much capture the full range of what’s around me. Being able to compose without much movement is a really big help for all of the easily startled creatures you encounter. Shooting with primes can be incredibly restrictive considering some animals you see on the trails will run, fly, or swim away as soon as you move closer to them or if they hear even the slightest sound.
On this particular trip, I chose to try something new and left my DSLR and 24-120mm at home. Instead, I brought the Sony DSC–RX1 with me. I have been using this camera for the last few months and have been taking my time getting acquainted with the camera and how it works. I had been incredibly impressed by how quiet it is, how well it handles low light, and how it was able to handle portraiture. One thing that stands out time and time again is its ability to capture such incredible detail. With a huge full-frame 24MP sensor, it’s no wonder why this thing picks up so much in every frame you shoot. In editing other shots taken with the RX1 I found myself continually zooming in to see just how much detail was being captured.
With this habit in mind, I decided that I was going to try something new and shoot to crop. I know this sounds crazy, and it goes against pretty much everything I have traditionally done in the realm of photography, but it made sense in thinking of the limitations of the camera. Generally, I compose everything in my viewfinder and only crop to straighten or get rid of distractions on the fringes of the frame, meaning that, generally, what I see in my viewfinder is pretty much the final photo produced. Shooting to crop is a whole new ball game for me and the level of forethought involved is pretty crazy. Shooting in this way, you pretty much have to compose a photo inside of what is already composed within your viewfinder, this composition is what you will be cropping to later.
Taking a look at my Camera Raw windows, you can start to see how I was thinking about the composition. Thinking at such a tiny level can be incredibly difficult, and framing within the frame can be a struggle while you maintain focus on the subjects that you are trying to capture. Using your enlarge/magnification buttons on your camera can be really helpful, both in terms of making sure you are maintaining focus and creating the composition that you want. What I realized with doing this is that patience is everything, you have to be will to take some extra time to make sure your shot is the way you want it and keep it steady.
The amount of patience that went into making a lot of these shots happen feels really worth it. For me taking some extra time and crouching in an uncomfortable position feels so much more worth it when I can come back, load everything up on the computer and see results like this. While I really wouldn’t think about shooting everything this way, I definitely feel it has its place depending on the subject you are shooting and the gear you are shooting it with. For myself, this is a very select application style of shooting, that said, I feel that it is something that I will do more often when it comes to tinier subjects.
I’m curious, what are some of your feeling on shooting to crop, or cropping your photos in general? Share below in the comments.
All shots taken with the Sony DSC–RX1 and edited in Adobe Camera Raw 8.1.