In a previous article, I extolled the virtues of the 10/3 or 3.33:1 Ratio for cropping a longer panoramic view. The other day while shooting with my 4:3 aspect ratio Canon G10 I found myself in a situation again which required (to my aesthetics at least) a panoramic crop. Eventually, I found myself back in 10/3:1 territory.
The uncropped original shown above reveals many problems. Notably the reflections on the glass through which I was shooting. They place a nice grid pattern across the image that will be loads of fun to remove in a pixel-based image editor. Thankfully, I have excess foreground and sky to eliminate to tighten the composition. The star of my show is the bending steam coming out of the distant power plant stacks. I need to eliminate that which is unnecessary in order to showcase the steam clouds as a subject.
I have a great sky in the lower portion and some decent foreground details with which to work. I also want to include the clock tower as a minor player to frame the right-hand edge and face back into my subject, the steam columns bending in the wind. A standard 2:1 crop gets me close but doesn’t get me zeroed in on the steam. I need a wider crop accentuate the all-ready wide subject and make it prominent enough to dominate the frame.
Thinking back to my 10/3 Lizard crop of a few articles back, I decided to use the 3.33:1 ratio here. I was pretty happy with what I saw. Not only did it render the reflections moot, it made my wind-bent steam much more the center of action. I stuck my supporting player, the clock tower, on the RH Rule of Sevenths to balance the edge of the frame and keep it from over powering the intended subject. I left a rule of fifths foreground/horizon to let the sky dominate.
There is just something about 3 1/3: 1 that works for me. Try it on those tough panoramas and see if the ratio works for you.
Rikk Flohr © 2012
When 3:1 isn’t enough and 4:1 is too much…
This was the lizard as presented to me in the wild. I didn’t have enough lens to get closer and fill the frame. He or she was a nervous little guy or gal and I found that if I stayed this far away the lizard would pose nicely without darting into those dark crevices. I composed as best I could avoiding a major distracting splotch of bird droppings on the left and fired the shutter. In-camera, I was happy with the crop but later, in post, I decided to see if I could improve the image’s impact.
The dark line below and the dark holes above were originally intended to be framing elements. The lack of contrast between a dusky red lizard and dusty red rocks wasn’t enough to overpower the shadows on the rock face. My solution: Crop them out. After trying a variety of crops, I started working toward offsetting the lizard with some open space. To maximize that open space, I went as wide as I could and just narrow enough to eliminate those competing shadow areas.
Ultimately, I got close and then decided to go for one of my magical crop number. The final aspect ratio ended up somewhere between 3:1 and 4:1 and ultimately I forced a 3.33:1 ratio striving to achieve nice mathematical 10/3:1 ratio. The lizard definitely takes over the picture with the distractions cropped out and the aspect makes for dramatic amount of space where 3:1 was not enough and 4:1 was just too much. Another intermediate ratio I often use is 2.5:1.
When your panoramic crops look a little wide or not wide enough try these intermediate ratios and see if your image doesn’t become a little stronger.
Rikk Flohr © 2012
Shift the angle of the eyes-shift the mood.
Crop Rotation: Consider the three images above. They are all the same image of a recent shoot with model April B. The only difference the images is the amount of rotation that was performed while cropping.
Crop 1 was composed in camera with the eyes level. The crop was designed to place the key-light lit eye at the upper-left Rule of Thirds. The model is looking forward so I don’t have to leave additional look-in-to space to satisfy the Rule of Space. Simple-straight forward. What happens to the image if we decide to shift the eyes along the horizontal? 15° or so ought to do it-or roughly about the height of the model’s eye. More than that and the image starts to look phony.
15° counter-clockwise rotation changes the mood quite a bit. how does it affect you? What are feeling about the relationship of the model to the camera, the girl to you?
Taking it the opposite direction by roughly the same amount is a completely different feel. Which is more playful? More Expectant? More Aloof? Sexier? Glamorous? Professional? Vulnerable? Which would she give to an intimate friend and which would she use on social media?
When we play god with rotation, we change the mood and timbre of an image, an expression, a person. All the baggage we carry in our own personality builds upon the act of rotating a crop 15° one way or the other. Only you can decide which rotation best suits your needs at the time. Play shifty eyes and see what works for the purpose at hand.
Rikk Flohr © 2012