Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Fresh Crop of Photos

The way you choose to crop a photo can dramatically change its overall balance and feel. For me, a successful crop of a photo can sometimes take an otherwise boring picture and turn it into something noteworthy. Finding that right crop is often a process of trial and error for me.

I took this photo on at Bluff Point State Park the other day. While trying to find the best overall crop for the photo I came up with several different versions. Each is pleasing to me in its own way. I thought it might be interesting to demonstrate a little bit of my process and how I think about the pictures I decide to keep. I throw away a lot of pictures. However, there are some of them that I end up keeping in multiple different crops and treatments.

I often use my wife and kids as a sounding board when trying to find the ideal version of a photo. They are usually helpful and quite patient with me, however, my wife has on one occasion informed me that she has had enough of trying to choose between seemingly identical photos for a given evening!

As you look at these nearly identical shots, do you have a favorite?

1 - Here's the original photo, un-cropped.
This one fits the rule of thirds on the horizontal axis (the road vanishing point is kind of along the right third of the frame), but I thought I might improve it...

2 - I cropped it down to shift the horizon down to the lower third of the frame... I like the balance of this one. It makes me think about what's around that bend.

3 - Then I shifted the horizon up to the upper third of the frame... Both of these are interesting in their own way. This one puts more focus on the lines of shadow on the road. It's more about what's right in front of me than where I am going.

4 - Here's an 8X10 ratio with the focus still on the road.

5 - This 8X10 draws your eyes up into the trees a bit more as they follow around the curve in the road. Again, it's got me wanting to see whatever's around the bend.

6 - Flipping the 8X10 to a portrait layout yields a shot that might look good framed on a wall as a large print.

My Final Pick - After spending way too much time sampling all the above crops, I finally scrolled to the next photo in line (which I hadn't even looked at yet) and decided what I was really looking for was this un-cropped photo which I think may have a better over-all balance than all the others. Incidentally, I ended up cropping this several times, too, until they all started to look exactly the same to me... Sometimes it's just tough to decide!

Ultimately, I have to just make a decision with each photo and move on or I'd never get any of my pictures processed!
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