Cropping is a really simple thing that can greatly improve the quality of your images by focusing on the things that seem important. Rather than talk about it, I thought I’d go through some examples. Here’s the first shot.
I like the shot – the shooter, goalie, and ball are all in focus. I don’t like the space above and below, #12 isn’t really helping the image, and I hate the Pepsi machine. Here’s the cropped version:
You may notice that the resulting image is no longer the 3:2 ratio that we started with. This is an aesthetic choice; I tend to crop to best show the action (and get rid of the distraction) even if it results in a non-standard aspect ratio. Other photographers crop only to specific aspect ratios (3:2, 5:4, 5:3, etc.)
Here’s a simple one:
and one final one: