I found this post on the net today and it has a good and different way of composing your image. Give it a read… or a watch…
Rikk Flohr © 2016
We’ve been taught to watch the corners. In fact, any composition class worth its time and money will tell you to watch the corners. Distractions, stray light and other nasty things creep in from the corners. Sometimes, critical story-telling action takes place in the corners too and you have to be able to discern and crop accordingly to take advantage.
My daughter Whitney has a new puppy named Ludo (after the large monster in the movie Labyrinth). He is a 8 week-old Newfoundland. Wrangling a young and recently adopted puppy is a challenge – especially in a studio environment. Some of the captures not only stretched the sensibilities of composition, they struggled to keep the energetic youngster in frame!
Above is the original in-camera framing – uncropped. The focus of the shoot was to get Ludo’s puppy picture. Ludo is the subject. He is center frame, in focus and well lit just like I planned. I shot wide so that I could ensure that his entire body would remain in frame no-matter how much he moved about. After that, it was simply a matter of keeping him on the white seamless. As I went through the images in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, I noticed how nice the interaction was between Ludo and his new owner/mommy Whitney. I sought to crop this image while keeping their relationship intact and using it as my story.
With my Rule of Thirds overlaid on the capture, I examined the image for items that could be sacrificed and items that needed removal for the sake of distraction relief. Marked in read were the problem areas I saw. The edges of the seamless needed to be eliminated. Whether I cropped the area outside the seamless off or filled it in with white, that area had to go. Because this is Holy Crop! it was cropped off. I wanted to leave my daughter in frame to give a more robust story to the puppy’s pose. He is looking at her – she is looking at him. That interaction is powerful! The angles of their lines of sight, suggest a diagonal composition.
Cropping to the edge of the seamless right and left tightened up the composition nicely but left a little too much space to the right. The space under Ludo’s feet was pretty close to where I wanted it so I let it stay untouched. I only had a partial face of Whitney to begin with so I didn’t risk cutting any more out off of the top. One eye was enough to establish the line of sight. With pretty close to a full arm and part of the upper torso, I was confident I had enough person to scream ‘person’.
Let’s talk about balance. Good composition has a balance. Though Whitney is bigger than Ludo, Ludo is closer to camera than Whitney. Ludo is darker than Whitney meaning he holds the weight of the photo. Ludo is also the primary subject of the photo. The trick to balancing Whitney in the upper left with Ludo in the lower right is manage space.
I’ve blacked out the four ninth sections of the image where nothing is taking place. It is just empty space. To balance the two entities and compose them successfully in the corners, I have to keep them within these bounds. Both square areas need to have reasonable composition respectively when viewed as disjoint images for this to work. The angle between the centers of the two square areas needs to be approximately the angle of the line joining the eyes of both. A little fine tweaking of the right edge inward allowed me to ensure that the angle worked.
Ludo takes up four squares. Whitney takes up one square. Their positions in space satisfy the balance between the objects and their relationship as defined by the line of sight. What we are left with is a portrait of a puppy, owner and the story of their first photo session together.
Composition is possible working from the corners. Watch your interaction of your corner subjects and give proper presence to the subject and their supporting players! Balance and motion are key. Compose each corner separately and make sure the relative positions support the movement of our eyes around the image.
Now, let’s see some of your cornered subjects!
Rikk Flohr © 2016
In today’s Found on the Net category is an ancient (in web terms) article on Avoiding Tangents. This is a good article on things to avoid in both in-camera framing and in your subsequent cropping. Give it a read!
As you go about cropping your images, consider using your cropping choices to make certain that you avoid tangents in your finished images.
Rikk Flohr © 2016
I was onstage at a recent camera club presentation teaching the basics of composition. Somebody in the audience asked the question: “How do you start to compose an image?” Thinking quickly on my feet, I expounded upon with a story about how it was a Space-time Continuum issue. Later, as I mused on the clever answer, I started to conceive of the actual math. I came up with this diagram to illustrate where composition begins.
This is where it all begins.
So, to my student from my last composition class, here is the inception of composition – math-style!
It starts with you or “U” as defined in the chart. You are traveling in time and space (no Twilight Zone jokes please). At some point along the time axis of your life you chose to stand in a place marked at the intersection of the X/Y axis – a spot on the map. You now must decide how tall you will be. Will you be laying on the ground, standing on a ladder, or merely viewing the world from your height? At time T at (x,y,z) you spot a subject S and pick up your camera with a lens of a certain focal length F.
At a point in Space-Time, you aim along a direction with a magnitude. You have just created a vector. Congratulations! The magnitude in this analogy is the focal length of your lens which determines how much of the world you chose to crop from your vision. Ultimately, your goal is to is to create a composition “C”.
The mechanics of composition now yield to the art of composition. You’ve chosen a time, a subject, a place to be as well as a viewing angle. Now, within the forced frame of your sensor’s aspect ratio, you must make your vision as strong as you can in order to tell the story you want most to tell. Now balance, rules, DOF and all of the other compositional tools come into play.
It all starts with a point in time and space and a direction with purpose: the birth of composition.
Rikk Flohr © 2015
If you’ve ever dealt with a professional print fulfillment labs and had a client order a wallet-sized image, you may have run into the Double Crop Conundrum. The standard wallet size is 2.5” x 3.5 “. Conveniently, it shares the same aspect ratio as the venerable 5×7 size print. At first blush, that makes cropping for the wallet-sized print a snap. Right? Wrong! Here’s why:
Setting the Lightroom™ Crop tool to the 5×7 aspect ratio and applying a crop seems like the correct thing to do. Well, it is but it isn’t the last step in the process. We will go ahead and apply this crop and then export the image for upload to our photo lab. In my particular case, this is White House Custom Color.
The resulting photo is the correct proportions and size for the lab to create the wallet-sized prints. Here’s the problem: photo labs don’t print a wallet one-at-a-time like larger size prints. They gang them up into groups of eight and put them on a larger sheet for printing.
Here is a visual example of what your photo lab is actually printing. It is the classic 8-Up wallet print. Printing wallets in this fashion is much more efficient. The problem comes when the wallets need to be separated into individual pictures. No Customer, Photographer or Lab wants to hand cut these photos so it is done by machine using a die cutting device that quickly punches out the individual wallets. This is where the second crop comes into play.
When you load up your image in your lab’s upload platform and select the wallet, this gray box appears, superimposed over your image preview. This is the die cutter’s safe line. The precision of die cutting a sheet of wallets is such that anything within the boundaries of this gray line is subject to being summarily trimmed off. Anything outside the line, well you can just plan on kissing that goodbye. That is the second crop issue with the Approximate Die Cut overlay. If you cropped too tightly in Lightroom while prepping your file, well, back to the drawing board for a recrop and the hope you have enough material left in the original image.
Suppose there was a way in Lightroom to preview the Approximate Die Cut line before you exported your finished crop… you are in luck – there is.
It is possible to assign a graphical overlay on your image within the Loupe and Develop views within Lightroom. This lets you put a graphic such as a logo, a team picture template, a magazine cover or even a cropping guide on top of your photo so that you can insure your layout is what you want before you commit it to a file.
In your Lightroom menu, go to View>Loupe Overlay>Choose Overlay Image> and navigate to a PNG file with transparency that you’ve created for just such an occasion. Here is the PNG file I am using for this overlay.
I created this file in CorelDraw and exported it as a PNG with transparency enabled. It was built on the 5×7 aspect ratio and should work on all 8-Up wallet prints.
Going to View>Loupe Overlay>Show or hitting the [Ctrl/CMD]+[Opt/Alt]+[O] keyboard short cut cycles the overlay on and off. Now you can adjust your crop in the Develop module and compare your results to your lab’s die cut line and get it just right before exporting the file.
You controlled the first crop where you fine-tune the composition and the edges. Now you can control the second crop too (within the boundaries of the approximation of the guide) and ensure that finger don’t become amputated, hair doesn’t get flat-topped or vital elements aren’t squeezed against an unfeeling machine-cut edge.
Note that when you are actually cropping the image, the crop overlay supersedes your Loupe Overlay until the crop is finished. The guide will disappear and not return until your crop is complete. You may have to go back and forth a bit but the visualization of the overlay will help you create the perfect sized and composed file for printing your wallet.
The PNG File above can be clicked upon and saved to your own computer for use in Lightroom. Consider that a free gift from the Cropist. Install it in your Lightroom catalog and never suffer from the Double Crop Conundrum again.
Rikk Flohr © 2015