I snapped this shot of a fool-hardy casual photographer way back in 2005 with my first DSLR (Canon 20D). As I was resurrecting this image the other day, I got to thinking about the in-camera framing and the subsequent crop. Here we have a person (subject) and a setting (frozen waterfall). At first glance that seems like all there is to it. Crop/Frame it so the person is on the Rule of Thirds Lower Right Power Point because the person and action is upward and to the left.
A deeper analysis reveals that the subject of the photo might be a more interesting concept: stupidity or danger perhaps? Now the proximity to peril becomes the driving factor of how to finish the crop on this image..
On the image, I’ve overlaid a red grid showing the Rule of Thirds and a yellow grid detailing the Rule of Fifths. Moving the person on to the right-hand Rule of Thirds eliminates some of the left side of the image which, I think, is important to illustrate the impending ice-fall potential. Retaining those fractured and water-eroded holes in the ice increases the danger. I also decided the peril was increased by showing the mound of ice upon which the intrepid photographer is standing. I could have moved his head down to to lowest right Rule of Fifth but I felt, though the grandeur of the ice sculpture improved slightly, the precarious nature of his position was diminished. The path he climbed and the perch he chose add to the element of the peril.
Original Rule of Thirds-In Camera Framing
Ultimately, as I find myself doing more often, I found a Rule of Third – Rule of Fifth intersection to be a sweet spot. There lies the head of the person allowing peril to fill the remainder of the frame. Other choices made the person stronger or the ice sculpture stronger but this choice makes the peril most pronounced and that, gentle readers, is the name of the game. Make the subject stronger through cropping – even when the subject is danger.
Rikk Flohr © 2013