Welcome to the May edition of ShareCropping. After a couple of busy months, the cropist is returning to sharecrop another image. Today, we are going after Jim Strand’s excellent homage to the departure of winter. Winter is still hanging on in spots in Minnesota and it is hoped that this last sacrifice will lead to Spring!
This is Jim’s uncropped original. It is a very cool image taken on a 4×3 aspect ratio camera. When I saw this image, I knew it had Sharecropping written all over it so I asked Jim if he would donate it to the cause. He agreed.
After looking the image over, I decided what needed to be done. Here are some of my observations:
- The image is a little down-hill to the right.
- The bright sky at the top is too much. It draws the eye away from some amazing detail. (Ripples in the dark water, snow on branches and some nice reflections)
- There is some lens distortion at the edges that also distracts the eye.
- The larger trees frame the image nicely and need to be preserved.
- The darkness at the bottom occupies a little too much space.
Let’s go into the crops!
Crop Rotation: Let’s level it up a bit.
There. That’s better. Well, this is a landscape image so the landscape crop comes immediately to mind. Keeping in mind our analysis, I worked several traditional landscape crops. I found this one to my liking.
I took a little off the bottom top and left sides. I tried to keep the branch on the left side from lifting out of the top of the frame to hold the sky and just enough of the shadows to frame the bottom of the water. It helps but I think we can do better. Let’s look at a square crop.
With a square crop, I had to decide which side was more interesting. I chose the right hand side because I liked the foreground shoreline better. This one really highlights the ripples. I like this crop because it minimizes the sky and takes the image off-center a little. Now, let’s look at a portrait crop.
For portrait, I decided I liked the other side better. The lone branch jutting into the empty sky gives me a focal point and deals with the loss of the ripples. The image has become more about negative space in the sky and the water. Of the three, so far, I like the square best.
It wouldn’t be Holy Crop! without a panorama so here goes:
Here is a 2×1 with no sky. Dark waters abound! I am still trimming some lens distortion from the image but little else.
I wanted to add the sky back in but I found it was too distracting. In the panoramic crop, notice how the snow-covered branch on the right is much more prominent without the sky.
If panoramic is good, cinematic must be better? Right? Here is a 2.5×1 crop where we’ve sacrificed the foreground water. The picture has changed from darkness to gray. Two different and equally valid treatments result. What happens if we take it farther?
The 3×1 takes it too far. The water dominates. The distant forest is lost. The framing is nice but we’ve split the image into two competing factions.
I went back to the panorama and worked it backwards a little bit.
It is still almost a panorama crop but just under the 2:1 ratio. I decided the sliver of sky was too compelling a juxtaposition of exposure to pass up. Leaving that bright sliver allows me to keep the curved branch on the left side of the tree on the right. I also kept enough of the dark water to close up the bottom. Those things decided, I just had to leave enough of the left to minimize optical distortion and just enough off the right to isolate the large tree.
Which did you like best?
Thanks to Jim for volunteering his image this month. If you want to be the Cropist’s victim in June, drop me an image for consideration.
Rikk Flohr © 2011
All images are Copyright © Jim Strand.
Jim’s photos can be seen here:
Jim is an amateur hobbyist that has been taking pictures since he was in the Army. Since 1970 he has always had a single lens reflex camera with a complement of different lenses, first 35mm film and most recently digital. In the last year he has had a fixed lens Canon G11 that he uses 80% of the time. It has one major advantage… he has it with him when the picture happens.