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Crop and turn a bad picture into a good one

Some people take pictures with planning and care. They check the edges of their frame, their composition, the light, etc and try to take the picture in such a way that there will be minimal needs for editing it too much later on.

But when one is dealing with living things, particularly small ones with only a camera phone in hand, one just tries to take sharp pictures as much as possible.

Remember the creepy crawlies?

These little dudes were constantly wriggling away so much that it was impossible for them to be sharp if one went too near. This meant that my camera phone had to be further away from them.

To get this photo:

I had to crop it from this shot:

As you can see, not much thought given to composition there. I just tried to give them more space to crawl within the frame and click when the picture looked focused enough.

My best effort at going really close up was this:

I had the camera phone tilted, so the millipede’s head was nearer the lens and it’s tail was further away. That gave me a very clear shot of the tail, but the head ended up blurred. Since I knew I was going to have clear heads in the previous photo anyway, I  cropped away the head for this one, and ended up with this really clear, close up of the millipede’s behind.

Sure, the top half of the millipede’s body in this photo was still slightly out of focus, but I thought it was a good effect, and really focuses your eyes on its tail and legs there.

I caught a butterfly!

This morning while Donna and I were out for a walk, I saw these two butterflies that were a pretty lavender, fluttering around. They were small and I wasn’t too sure if I could capture them, since they didn’t stay still for long.

I took four shots and only this one turned out sharp:

But you can hardly see the bug!

Here is the photo cropped to show you the detail on it’s wing:

It was a wee little thing, whose actual size was smaller than the close up image of it here.

Donna dog

But mostly this blog comprises pictures of Donna. So here’s Donna’s photo for Movember 2013:

And here is the original shot, the picture above was cropped from:

Because seriously, I don’t have a dial on a remote control that manipulates what Donna does every minute of the day. I just snatch up my camera phone and snap and think about what to do with it later! :P

Three Tips for Taking Close up/Macro Photos

  • Go close if you will, but always make sure the subject is clear and sharp.
    I sometimes over compensate by taking a couple more pictures since it’s hard to check sharpness on the small screen when time is ticking and the butterfly is going to fly away.
  • Leave yourself the leeway to crop
    If you are unsure about the composition when you are taking the photograph, always go for a wider shot so you will have the option to crop it later on to achieve a more balanced picture. One has less options for cropping when one takes a tighter shot.  
  • Be brave but not foolhardy!
    Crop to what you think is your ideal for the photo in terms of composition, but not too much or you will see the picture quality degrade and become pixelated. Doesn’t matter, you can always go back to your original and try to crop less closely the second time round.

Note: All pictures on this post were taken with an iPhone using Camera+ and cropped using Snapseed.


My Best Photo of the Week (MBPOTW) Challenge – week 13


The begging dog returns!


  1. Pretty butterfly. Close up shots are just one of the reasons I love this Galaxy S4. I have been thrilled with my ability to get macro close straight out of the camera.

  2. Love it! Thanks for the great tips! I am a new blogger and found you on Blog Hop, so if you get a chance pls hop on by ours. http://ownedbyahusky.blogspot.ca

  3. Thanks for the tips. I’m still a novice witht he photography, but getting better and learning from all of you everyday!

  4. FleaByte

    I’m hoping to get my hands on some tiny lenses for the phone soon. Taking photos of moving critters is HARD!

  5. Though it is great when one gets exactly the photo one wanted each time the shutter trips, reality is that rarely happens with photos of critters!

    As your examples show above, there often is a better shot in the photo that cropping brings out.

  6. Nice pointers! I like the millipede’s curved butt! (What is Movember?)

    • Moustache November >> “Movember” is a marketing gimmick to raise awareness of prostate cancer and other men’s health issues. They encourage men to grow staches during the month, as a low cost way of raising awareness of this campaign.

  7. Thanks for joining TNT! Great tips. I admit, I don’t take that many pictures with my phone. I should, but I don’t. :)

    • LOL, I should be the one thinking I should take pictures with my camera more often… it’s just that the phone is handy and light weight. I will rue it if I ever decide to print something from the phone though. :P

  8. Thanks for linking up to This ‘N That Thursday blog hop this week! Nice tips regarding camera use. I agree that it’s so important to use the right lens and thought/skill to capture the right photo. Also, thanks for matching my ‘stache this Movember!! Woof.

  9. The crop tool is my friend :)

  10. No sharpening tools?

    • The originals have only been cropped with 500px, without other work on them, so you can compare them to the final images.

      For web use, I usually crop the image from the phone to 500px-750px on my desktop, to decrease the files size pressure on loading time and monthly bandwidth.

      Cropping it down to the smaller dimensions would have some sharpening effect effect itself. If you compare the original with the final, the light and shadow levels have been changed as well, the higher contrast or definition achieved can have some effect in making the image appear sharper as well. In terms of actual sharpening tools, I sometimes use “unsharp mask” on Photoshop.

  11. These are with your phone, right? I can never seem to get a good closeup shot.

  12. I have enjoyed the prose and picture on normaleye’s page, go see – pingback above.

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