Holly Kuchera is the new year’s first victim in the ShareCropping arena. Today we will look at Holly’s image “The Discovery” and see if we can discover new crops for her stunning image. Sometimes the photographer does all the cropping necessary in-camera. When that happens we are hard-pressed to crop for improvement.
Above is the uncropped version of “The Discovery”. Stunning fall colors a marvelous reflection, well thought-out composition and a nostalgic subject all combine to make a very pleasant photo. Let’s run it through the Cropist’s critical eye and see what we can see (or can’t).
There are few issues with the image at first glance. The Rule of Thirds compositional tool was used well placing the waterline on the lower rule and the boat at the lower power point. There was enough dark water left below the reflection to hold the bright area within the image boundaries. I did see four items that concerned me in the uncropped original.
- There is a lot of dead space top and right. The colors and textures are nice but it almost feels like the space was left there just to satisfy the compositional rule of thirds requirement. The flow or movement in the image doesn’t make use of this space.
- There is a little distracting background detail on the left in front of the boat. A bench or picnic table breaks up the otherwise tranquil background.
- The boat is looking both ways. The front of the boat is facing left and very near the edge making it seem like it is ready to drive out of frame. The seats on the back deck are facing right drawing our eyes to the middle of the frame. If there were people there, the back would be stronger. If there was boat movement, the front would be stronger. As it is, both end of the boat compete with each other.
- The boat though centered on the left rule of thirds, is such a wide subject that it appears to be centered in the left hand half of the picture. It divides the picture almost in half-creating subject side and empty side. This is a tough composition to pull off well.
My first inclination was to eliminate the dead area to the top and make the boat a little more prominent. This crop was about the boat and not the reflection. The horizontal aspect ratio drives our eye to the front of the boat where the rule of space says the boat is crowding the edge.
I didn’t like that I lost the reflection. It is one of my favorite parts of the image. I figured I would try to eliminate the vast space to the right of the boat with a Portrait crop. By centering the boat, I can essentially eliminate the tension of the front/back issue. This isn’t bad and the turned-over aluminum boat on the shore really holds us to the right.
We tried portrait and landscape so why not square. Here I came in a little off the top and a little off the right and ended up with a nice square. We left the waterline on the lower rule and placed the right rule in the space where we would expect a person standing off the back rail. A little in from the left helps push out the picnic table distraction.
I like 2:1 Aspect Ratios. Here I left just enough dark to hold the bright reflection and took off enough of the top to keep the waterline on the lower rule. The image looks ‘in-half’ doesn’t it? I like the top and bottom crop but not the left-right.
If the image is in-half maybe you just get rid of one half. I decided to halve the 2:1 to a square crop and go tighter than I had in the first square crop I tried. Notice how much more focus that chair sitting on the back deck has in this tighter crop. I like this better than the first square crop- especially that dark hole upper left…
My favorite crop is nearly square 12:11. This crop resulted from “carving an elephant”. I took each boundary and cut off what I didn’t like. Space off the top, space off the right were amputated until I was happy with what was left. The bottom was trimmed to just barely hold the dark boundary around the reflection. The left was trimmed to destroy the outline of the picnic table and force the focus of the boat to the back. The boat doesn’t look centered horizontally or vertically. The waterline doesn’t bisect the image and we kept enough of the stunning autumn foliage.
Your eye is drawn to the porch and aluminum boat area which to me is the “missing story” of the image.
Now if there were just a small child sitting on the back with a fishing line trailing into the river…
Thanks to Holly Kuchera for being this month’s victim.
I am looking for a victim for February’s edition of ShareCropping. Email me if you are interested.
Rikk Flohr © 2011
Discovery Image and derivatives are © Holly Kuchera.
When it comes to photography, Holly Kuchera is something of an omnivore as she enjoys photographing just about every subject you can imagine. If you don’t find her out and about the Minneapolis/St Paul area exercising her camera, check behind her desk where she spends a lot of time “getting creative” with her images.
More of Holly’s work (photos & blog!) can be found at www.tortoiseproductions.com