The subject is the same but the story is different.
Firstly, apologies gentle readers. I have been traveling. I have been remiss. A wedding, the Presentation Summit and the desert Southwest of the United States has occupied all my attention for the month of September. The result? Many miles of driving, tons of image captures and time for thought. “About what?” You ask.
Cropping, of course.
Take a gander at these two captures of Elk on the south rim at Grand Canyon National Park. I thought it might be interesting to talk about the similarities in the subject first. Both photos show two bull elk sparring with horns interlocked. In fact, the same two elk appear in both pictures and the images were captured less than 9 minutes apart! In between the scenery changed from glade to forest and bright early-morning sun to subdued wooded shade.
The uncropped version of the portrait crop above shows you the actual scene. I cropped vertically for a couple of reasons. There were distractions to remove as well as animals cropped at the joint (the ‘waist’ of the right-hand elk). What dominated the crop was the subjects’ intensity in their eye-to-eye gaze and interlocked horns and my desire to bring that out.
Removing large sections of the right and left hand portions of the image really makes the eyes pop. The are looking right at each other with horns locked. These animals are engaged in combat. This image is the face of their struggle and the wiliness of their strategies to anthropomorphize a bit. All in all a much more compelling image cropped that highlights their complex and delicate behavior.
The panoramic landscape crop shows us a different struggle. The faces are downward and the motion is inward against the other elk.
Looking at the crop I chose, you can see that I eliminated everything that didn’t push the two elk toward each other. The motion, the strength, if you will, is lateral. To emphasize this the crop needs to match the direction of motion and strength. Next you make certain that you fill the frame making the animals seem as powerful as possible. I offset the elk just a bit so I could make the elk on the right ahead in the contest. Crop a little more off the right and the left elk is winning.
Two different stories.
Think about the relationship that is already there and enhance it with your choice of a portrait or landscape crop. They really help you tell different stories.
I wonder what the portrait image would look like as a vertical pano…
Rikk Flohr © 2011