The Right Crop Can Make The Shot

After shooting the Redskins game I shared some of my picks with my buddy Scott Kelby. Scott is an accomplished football shooter and he gave me some great tips before I went to the game so I wanted him to see some of the fruits of my labor. While he was full of praise for the shots I sent him, he had some advice for my post-processing that has really transformed the look of my images. It had nothing to do with filters or plug-ins and everything to do with how I cropped my shots.

See, unlike many of the shooters on the sidelines who were sporting 400 and 600mm lenses, my longest focal length lens was 300mm, which meant that I had some loosely framed shots. I was constantly moving up and down the field trying and keep as close to the action as possible but the reality was that sometimes the play was on the other side of the field so I just had to get what I could get.

Because of this, I knew that I would be doing some cropping to reduce the angle of view but here’s what Scott told me, “When you think you have cropped enough, crop it even more.” He was right of course, and as I started going back over my images, I realized that the tight crop could completely change the dynamic of the image. Even on shots where I was pretty close to the action, cropping tighter just seemed to magnify the drama of the moment and made the shot even better.

Take this shot for example. The first take has Running Back Ryan Torain cutting around the edge of a block to hit a hole for a decent run but the crop is pretty loose.

Now check out the tighter crop that removes the out of focus players on the left and really puts you right into heart of the action.

Here’s another example where a tight crop makes the shot. The first image shows Tight End Fred Davis getting tackled after making a reception. The action was pretty close to me but there is still some room for improvement.

Now check out the shot after the crop. The tighter crop helps isolate the players involved in the play and gives the image more impact.

The next time you are shooting a sporting event and start processing your images, don’t forget to break out the crop tool and get tight on the action.


  1. Thanks Jeff. Thats a very helpful tip.

    Btw, whats a good method of not losing info while cropping photos without using expensive software ( like Genuine Fractals)?

    • There are quite a few plug-ins for enlarging images beyond their cropped pixel dimensions. Genuine Fractals has been renamed by onOne to Perfect Resize 7. Also, Alien Skin’s Blow Up 2 is very good at this as well. Photoshop also does a much better job at upsizing now as well. I think they re-vamped the algorithm in CS4 and it is greatly improved over older versions.

  2. Dee Anne Navarre says:

    Mr. Revell,
    I am looking for a book you have authored on Eos Rebel xsi. Do you have one or is there one that is close enough?

    • Hi Dee Anne,
      I have not written a book on the Rebel XSi, it came out a bit before I started writing my books. Probably the closest one to the XSi would be the one I did for the Rebel T1i. I would advise finding a copy in the book store and giving it a good once over before buying though so you know if it is close enough to your camera to suit your needs.


  1. Booom says:

    The Right Crop Can Make The Shot:

    After shooting the Redskins game I shared some of my picks with… #Photography

  2. The Right Crop Can Make The Shot Photography.alltop

  3. The Right Crop Can Make The Shot if publishing to the web don't forget that cropping can make for some great shots

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