Here is an original in-camera framing on shot I took recently during my Western road trip. This American Bison stepped out of the mist and climbed the hill near the mud volcanoes of Yellowstone National Park. As I looked at the image in post processing, I thought there might be a couple of ways to go with the crop as I sought to make the image slightly stronger.
I loved the left side of the frame. The mist and shrouded tree line, coupled with the Bison at the inception of his ascent, made for a dynamic combination. I was less enthralled with the right side of the image. The trees held the edge nicely and keep the eye from wandering out of the frame to the right. The partial tree at left most bothered me so I decided it had to go – that means sacrificing the foreground bush limb intrusions as well.
This crop eliminates the undesirable right hand partial trees. I had to tweak some of the left side off to improve the overall balance of this crop. As I evaluated this crop I discovered that, for me at least, the story is the Bison, the mist and the lone skeletal tree rising from the briefly revealed forest in hole through the mist. I decide to take my right-hand frame edge/balancing tree out of the frame and further hone in on the Bison and mist.
Keeping my crop square made the most sense, initially. The filling of the frame with more bison made the animal’s posture more apparent. I liked that. The forest melts in slightly through the mist. Still I wasn’t happy with the final result. I tried going a little more vertical with my crop to see if I could exploit the mist a little more.
I also dropped some contrast in this version to push the Bison back into the mist. Ultimately, I think the is the crop upon which I will settle. While none of them, from in-camera framing to the final are slouches, they all serve slightly different purposes and tell the story in subtly different ways. I leave it to you, the reader, to pick your favorite. As for me. I like the last the best.
Every image has many crops. Try and discover as many as possible before emerging from the mist.
Rikk Flohr © 2013