When 3:1 isn’t enough and 4:1 is too much…
This was the lizard as presented to me in the wild. I didn’t have enough lens to get closer and fill the frame. He or she was a nervous little guy or gal and I found that if I stayed this far away the lizard would pose nicely without darting into those dark crevices. I composed as best I could avoiding a major distracting splotch of bird droppings on the left and fired the shutter. In-camera, I was happy with the crop but later, in post, I decided to see if I could improve the image’s impact.
The dark line below and the dark holes above were originally intended to be framing elements. The lack of contrast between a dusky red lizard and dusty red rocks wasn’t enough to overpower the shadows on the rock face. My solution: Crop them out. After trying a variety of crops, I started working toward offsetting the lizard with some open space. To maximize that open space, I went as wide as I could and just narrow enough to eliminate those competing shadow areas.
Ultimately, I got close and then decided to go for one of my magical crop number. The final aspect ratio ended up somewhere between 3:1 and 4:1 and ultimately I forced a 3.33:1 ratio striving to achieve nice mathematical 10/3:1 ratio. The lizard definitely takes over the picture with the distractions cropped out and the aspect makes for dramatic amount of space where 3:1 was not enough and 4:1 was just too much. Another intermediate ratio I often use is 2.5:1.
When your panoramic crops look a little wide or not wide enough try these intermediate ratios and see if your image doesn’t become a little stronger.
Rikk Flohr © 2012