There is a lot to know about pixels and cropping and resolution, but I think the end result of all those things is how does the resulting image look. When I belonged to NPN for several years when I first started to do nature photography I was totally open to all types of critique – but at the same time I became somewhat traumatized by what I saw as an extremely strong emphasis on YOU HAVE TO DEVELOP THE SKILL TO GET CLOSER AND/OR YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT LENS TO DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO (which for me was everything except landscapes).
I did not want to use setups. The lens I have now, a 100-400mm with a 1.4 extender, is the most expensive lens I could get and, unless I drop it or otherwise break it, it will be the lens I keep using. So for the most part I took it for granted based on NPN critique that I would be limited to big Florida birds (where I lived at the time) and the occasional very lucky shot of a small bird.
We moved to the Atlanta area a little over 3 years ago, and my photography of necessity (and then thorough enjoyment) turned to small birds with the occasional large bird. Around that time my NPN membership lapsed and I felt that I was freer to do what I felt I needed to do regarding cropping. I got to know nature photographers in the Atlanta area, and one of them said at one point, “You have such great detail that you need to crop more so people can see that detail.”
It’s been a long time since I’ve figured the percentage of the original image my final image is. I am very aware of the potential issues with cropping, and I judge that by what I see, not by the numbers. Sometimes I may be wrong. More times than not my resulting image is, as far as I can tell, not visibly affected negatively by the crop. If it is visibly affected by the crop and I miss that it’s very embarrassing and I absolutely do want to know about it.
The UNEDITED image that I have posted here seems like a good example to ask your opinions about how this image might be cropped. I have tried a major crop and I think it looks fine. Maybe I’m missing something. So I would like to ask anyone who is interested in commenting what your views are on cropping generally and then specifically with an image like this. Note that I do NOT think I shouldn’t have captured this image because I was “too far away.” I really love it. There’s something about chipmunks that really appeals to me. (Again, this is NOT a crop, this is the original image.)