Sometimes, an image teases us into cropping it more than one way.
“… don’t stop
at just one crop!”
It is easy, as photographers to get locked into a single crop or cropping family. Occasionally, if you are daring, and willing to play with multiple crops on a single image, a series of pictures emerges. Consider this sunrise shot from my July trip to the prairies of North Dakota. I found the strength of the panoramic crop compelling. The center fulcrum formed by the large tree is a little too centered for my taste so I tried some different crops.
This image actually has multiple square crops hiding within it. You can take the two right trees, the two left trees or fill the frame with the center tree. I liked the two right trees best. Foreground on the rule of thirds line and the sky/cloud boundary on the other horizontal rule of thirds line were my choices. This crop has potential.
A more traditional Landscape Crop
With a more traditional landscape crop, the chance emerges to play with the three trees, the sun and shadows, balancing and pitting them against one-another. Rule of thirds divides the frame nicely vertically. Space to the right and the dark bush at left make for a unique balance.
The Portrait Crop
Lastly, I tried a portrait crop on the image. Here, I could still leverage the rule of thirds vertically. I had to come in tightly on the center tree and eliminate completely the smaller trees at either side. This kept partial tree distractions from intruding at the sides. With a single object and tight spacing, I was forced to center the tree horizontally. The asymmetry of the tree provides just enough tension to keep the image from looking too bilateral.
The uncropped original is offered above for comparison. This was my in-camera framing and it isn’t bad. The sun nearly hits the rule of thirds power point (as intended at capture). The asymmetry is pleasing. The horizon bisects the image but the shadows and the two-section sky mask that nicely. Given the scene in the field, the in-camera framing was a good choice.
Every image has many images within. You chose to shoot loosely or tightly with your camera. Crop loosely or tightly too. Above all, don’t stop at just one crop!
Ultimately, which do you prefer? Leave your answer in the comments section.
Rikk Flohr © 2010