In the previous article, I laid bare, for the world to see, the cropping overlays in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. You can read that article here. I thought it might be fun to take an actual image through several of the different crop overlays and evaluate the different results.
This screen capture shows cropping using the Rule of Thirds as our guide. The overlays are faint in this image. The frog’s eye is the most important part of the image so it occupies the upper left power point. I had predetermined how much hand and back space I was going to leave in all these shots to simplify the comparison and create a nice framing effect.
Lightroom has more than one crop overlay as I wrote about in the earlier article. I threw out the grid and the diagonals as being ‘not well suited’ for this particular subject. That left me with three others (besides the Rule of Thirds) to try.
I decided to tackle the Golden Ratio, next. Placing the frog’s eye on the golden section corner yields the image above. It gives more space (presumably leaping-into space) but it also allows a distraction to intrude in the form of the green blob at the top. We could easily fix that in post-processing if we chose so that isn’t huge. The image does feel a little looser.
The Triangles overlay is interesting. It cuts a diagonal from UL to LR and then sends perpendicular lines to the LL and UP corners. Placing the frog’s eye at the intersection results in a much tighter image. The frog doesn’t seem crowded. There is space into which to look But he looks less like leaping than in the Golden Ratio overlay. There isn’t a right or wrong here. The story you are telling should drive the crop. Is he about to jump? Crop him that way then!
Lastly, I decided to try a Golden Spiral or Fibonacci Sequence. This results in the tightest image of the group. It isn’t uncomfortably tight, and, in this aspect ratio, doesn’t vary that much from the triangle overlay. All-in-all, it is an acceptable crop.
Story should drive your cropping. You are telling a story with your picture. You want to make that story strongest by cropping your image to tune it to your story. Depending upon the story you want to tell, any of these crops might be the best. All of them certainly have the benefit of tried-and-true proportioning schemes via the included cropping guide overlays.
Next time you are cropping, try more than one compositional method and see which tunes your image best to your story.
Rikk Flohr © 2011