Assessing Photos from Nairobi National Park – Cropping

Nairobi National Park was established in 1946 by the conservationist, Mervyn Cowie, who pioneered the national park system in Kenya. It is located about 7 kilometers from the center of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city and separated only by an electric fence. You can read more about the park here. 

Photographing wildlife requires some sort of telephoto lens and for my venture into Nairobi National Park I used my Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200 mm f/2.8 

My camera was the Nikon D850.  Next time, I will use my 80-400mm lens (which I used on the rest of the game drives)

Figure 1- Uncropped photo 2 white rhinos 1/1000 at f/7.1 ISO 320
Figure 2 Cropped version 2 white rhinos

Equipment aside, what I would like to share with you is how I used cropping to produce the photo I wanted. Even with 200mm focal length some animals were just too far away to see well in the original photo. Figure 1 shows an uncropped photo of two white rhinoceros. Figure 2 is the same photo cropped to show the animals close up. Would I use this photo as a print on my wall – probably not. Would I use it in an album or book on Kenya wildlife, yes. For me, this photo is a record of my trip and I cherish it as such. It is not, by any means, an awesome wildlife photo. Would it work in a magazine article or book about the Nairobi National Park or about the white rhino? Yes, I think it would.

Figure 3 Uncropped view of ibis in a pond shot at 1/1000 sec f/7.1 ISO320

Figures 3 and 4 show a pair of sacred ibis. Again, I present the uncropped and cropped version. Sometimes, as was the case with this photo, you have captured an interesting wildlife photo that you don’t realize until you do crop it. When I zoomed in on this photo I noticed that the ibis was feeding its young. Notice the young one’s wing open over the mother as she feeds it. The lesson here is to always take a good look at your photos and zoom in on them as you may have captured something astonishing!

Figure 4. Cropped version sacred ibis

Cropping can also help establish a sense of place and give context to the photo while still featuring a main subject of interest. This is illustrated in Figures 5 and 6 of the crocodile.

Figure 5 Uncropped picture of crocodile. 1/800. f/7.1. ISO320
Figure 6 Cropped version

By zooming in slightly the photo becomes more interesting as the crocodile is clearly what first draws the eye but then one notices the bird and the surroundings. To me this is a much more interesting photo – but how one views a photograph is highly personal.

So – get out your favorite photos and see if cropping them has an effect you like.

Nikon D850

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