Normally we crop to eliminate distractions: getting rid of dark areas at the bottom, bright areas at the top, intrusions from the side and other in-image elements that deemphasize our primary subject. Sometimes it isn’t about subject-its about setting. Cropping out distractions can help with ambiguity of place.
Case in point, this capture of a red-headed woodpecker at Big Woods State Park near Nerstrand, MN. I had been trying to capture this bird for two seasons but it had eluded me. I had a client lined up for an image of this bird but needed a more natural looking setting. The obvious roof-line, door and sign give the bird a decidedly unnatural setting. What can a crop do for us?
Cropping in tightly gives a certain ambiguity to the bird’s surrounding. Many of the tell-tales that reveal the bird is near to a building have been eliminated by the tight crop. The prominent position of the subject and its relative size-to-frame have pushed the background back as well. It is becoming that image my client wants. Breakup that remaining line behind the bird and we are ready for sale!
I guess it comes down to sense of place. The more place you eliminate through your crop, the less you sense its being there.
Rikk Flohr © 2012