Look out Cropist! You are about to get bit by that vicious beast.
Sometimes a crop can give the illusion of proximity and, by extension, impart drama-even danger. The other day I had my office window open. The screen and storm window had been removed to facilitate my hummingbird photos earlier in the month. It was a cool and windy day but my office was stifling. I opened the window to refresh the room.
Movement caught my eye. An Eastern Gray Squirrel crept up to the opening, put his front paws on the interior window sill and stuck his head defiantly into my office. I clapped my hands sharply to scare him off before he crawled in and made a bigger issue of his cheeky appearance. He didn’t move! I became concerned that he was sick or somehow otherwise squirrely. Not wanting to risk disease or worse, I got up and shouted at him, getting him to move away from the window. I pulled down the glass.
After closing the window, he crept back up into the window frame-presumably to seek shelter from the wind. I, being the ever-present photographer, grabbed my Canon G10 and snapped a shot or two. Then I stuck my finger up to the glass and tapped. He didn’t move. I snapped another picture. I guess it is kind of cute and seems to have no where near the risk suggested by the cropped image at the beginning of the article. That is because cropping removed a few of the subtle hints that suggested a pane of glass between me and my antagonist.
I have highlighted a few of these tell-tales in the above image. Cropping eliminates the dirty glass, the reflection of the camera flash, and the interior window frame. A quick crop sends this squirrel from cuddly to cunning in short order. Looking at the wide and the cropped shot, the distance from fingertip to ferocious squirrel-teeth seems to decrease to dangerous proportions.
The next time you want to invoke more drama from a scene, try modifying your framing in-camera to eliminate the telling clues that danger isn’t really imminent. If you can’t do it in camera, maybe you can do it in a crop.
Rikk Flohr © 2010