In the previous article, I discussed how much ground was needed to keep people comfortably in-frame. This was the image used.
I promised to return and discuss how much (in my very opinionated opinion) sky was necessary in which to comfortably hold the sun. I looked at the image above and decided the cloud partially obscuring the sun made the question, well, clouded. I decided to approach the topic with a new image taken moments before on the very same Costa Rican beach. Here the sun is less encumbered by clouds and makes for a better discussion.
Here is the uncropped version of the sunset on the Pacific coast. The sun is shown where I framed it in-camera. As you can see the sun has ample space in which to roam. I chose this framing because it approximated the left-hand rule of thirds and left the sun seemingly sinking into the horizon by placing it slightly below the top rule of thirds. More on that decision in the future. Today, we are here to decide how much space is necessary to hold the sun.
Moving the sun to the upper left power point of the rule of thirds by cropping off the right hand side and top yields this image. The sun has plenty of room in which to roam and is not pressed for space in the slightest.
In this image we have placed the sun at the upper left rule of fifth’s position. It seems a little higher in the sky. No? Less like sunset. Yes? The room on the left is still ample and nothing appears crowded. It appears, in this image at least, that fifths will hold the sun. Perhaps were the sun larger in frame, it wouldn’t but at this size it is just fine.
Now we have moved the sun to the upper rule of sevenths. 1/7 of the way from the top and left. Are we starting to feel tight yet? The thing that saves us here is the halo of the sun is contained within the frame, giving us the illusion of adequate space. The long bright reflection of the sun across the water is really crowing the edge.
Coming out to the upper left rule of ninths we are really seeing the sun slip off the stage. The balance of the picture has tipped and we look off-kilter. To this point the varied crops don’t really offend our sensibilities but now we clearly know something is wrong. At the 7th’s position we were questionable. A tweak to the 9th’s position and we know we have gone over the edge.
Rule of Space says that we must have enough space for an object to exist within to avoid offending our sensibilities. For a sun this relative size in the frame, the Rule of Fifths applies. It may not be the best crop but it pushes the limit of where we can position that sun. Combine that with reasonable grounding for the rock and we have found relative boundaries within which to work.
Ultimately my final crop (Not Yet Shown) didn’t end up on any vertical rule and only coincidentally fell on the second horizontal rule of fifth. We cropped to strengthen the image-even though we didn’t’ follow the strict rule.
This not-yet-shown image will return in another discussion soon.
Rikk Flohr © 2011