Understanding Aspect Ratio For Better Prints
At some point in our lives, we’ve all been the subject of a poorly cropped photograph. The image, although almost perfect, left us with one less foot or hand. To prevent the loss of crucial parts of your images, we need to explore Aspect Ratio.
In photography, the aspect ratio is a major component in understanding how to frame your subject when you photograph and once again later when you print. Aspect ratio is the width and height proportion of the image. In simple terms, it describes how wide or square your image is. You’ll see it illustrated by two numbers divided by a colon like so (x:y).
Aspect Ratio depends on the camera equipment you are using since every camera has a default setting. However, with the dawn of the digital age, some digital cameras allow the Aspect Ratio to switch between different sizes. Also, computer software has expanded creative control.
To help you better understand how your image may be cropped during the printing process, let’s look at two of the most common ratio sizes.
3:2 Aspect Ratio
Camera Gear: 35mm Film Cameras | DSLR Cameras | Mirrorless Cameras | High-End Compact Cameras
Print Sizes with little or no cropping: 4×6 | 6×9 | 8×12 | 12×18 | 16×24 | 20×30
4:3 Aspect Ratio
Camera Gear: Most Point and Shoot Cameras | Micro Four-Thirds Cameras | Most Smart Phones
Print Sizes with little or no cropping: 3×4 | 6×8 | 9×12 | 12×16 | 18×24 | 30×40
Ways to avoid poor cropping
1. When photographing your subject, give the frame a bit of breathing room to accommodate cropping. To learn how to frame a compelling image take our next Composition Photography class taught by J. Michael McBride.
2. Edit individual images by adjusting the size or cropping to fit into a particular Aspect Ratio. Editing can happen easily and quickly by using the editing software available on our in-store kiosks or our print website. The easy to use editors will visually show how your image will be cropped depending on the Aspect Ratio you choose.
So remember, submitting your images without considering the Aspect Ratio of the photo and final print size, will result in unwanted cropping. With a little bit of forethought and editing work, you can present your printed image just the way you imagined it.