I got a lot of interesting play off the last He Cropped. She Cropped so we decided to do it again. And, like last time, we are cropping bugs!
This is the original capture: a metallic green bee in a furled pink Morning Glory. The centered nature of the original capture is to ensure that the center focus point has the bee’s eyes firmly in its grasp. When I shoot macro, I almost always work centered, composing with a later crop in mind. After capture, I found I was really struggling with the crop.
Because of the shape of the flower and the bee’s placement inside, I thought a square crop might be the ticket. I liked the strong diagonal of the leaf and decided if I could do a little rotation and crop squarely, I could get a composition I liked.
This was the result. I got the bee’s face on the rule of thirds and (hopefully) got a little balance in the process. Still, I wasn’t sure I had the ultimate crop. I turned to the Queen of the Crop, Laurie Hernandez and asked her to have a go.
She responded but with the caveat that this was a ‘very difficult crop to make’ and that she wasn’t really happy with any of them. The uncroppable image?
Laurie’s attempt is shown above. As is her wont, the Queen of the Crop went tight! She kept (roughly) the 2:3 aspect ratio from the capture but made it close and portrait. As with many macro images, power comes from proximity and she pulled us right up to the antennae! The negative space inside the blossom’s petals and around the insect really forms a ragged frame that is quite compelling. The attitude of the insect is definitely more menacing. That is why she is my compositional consultant!
One of the beauty’s of He Cropped. She Cropped is seeing the variety of crops that come with different perceptions of a single scene. Regardless of which crop you like best, hopefully it gives you the impetus to crop many ways or ask for advice from your trusted fellow croppers.
Rikk Flohr © 2014
A quick, yet unscientific, look at a recent cropping discussion
I was on a plane returning from the recent Worldesigns Photo Costa Rica tour working on my vast drive full of images. In the seat next to me was the principle of Worldesigns, LLC, Laurie Hernandez (know affectionately here on Holy Crop! as Queen of the Crop). I was working up a butterfly photo taken at one of our many stops along the way. Laurie, as it happened, was quite taken with the color palate of the image but not necessarily with my crop. She decided to intervene. Well, perhaps intervene is to strong a word. Let’s say she offered an alternative…
This is the uncropped capture of the image straight out of my camera. As long-time readers of Holy Crop! know, we first find the story and then carve away all portions of the image that do not support and strengthen said story. There are obvious distractions in the out-of-focus green leaves lower left and the green stem upper left. The clash with the color palette presented and have to go. Cropping seems like the logical tool to remove them from the scene. Then it becomes a balancing act of placing the folded-winged butterfly powerfully in whatever remaining space the Cropist deems necessary.
I saw the initial crop as a more square (actually quite close to 4×5) in crop. The above approximation shows what I was thinking. Granted, there is a little more work to do – especially burning down the lower left corner and augmenting he face of the butterfly slightly, etc. I wasn’t terribly attached to my crop at this point but I wasn’t unhappy with it either. Enter the Queen of the Crop’s voice into my ear. What she said precisely, I am uncertain, but she felt the need to deftly step in, assume the controls and offer her alternative.
Laurie’s crop was drastically different from my first attempt. She saw the value I’d missed, or dismissed perhaps, in the framing aspect of the entire leaf in which the butterfly was posed and sought to include it all. Whether for distraction’s removal sake or because it just worked, she went vertical and the resultant crop made for a strong alternate iteration of this image. Two different photographers cropped this image and two different visions resulted. He cropped, she cropped
At Holy Crop! we’ve long advocated that images can contain many compelling crops. The temptation to simplify this into a male/female perspective is powerful but, as they say, one example is a poor statistical sample. For now, I will leave it to the readers of Holy Crop! to mull.
Rikk Flohr © 2014
A short and sweet retrospective today:
Of Images I captured in 2013 & cropped in 2013,
- 34.4% were cropped Portrait (Captured 35%)
- 39.5% were cropped Landscape (Captured 65%)
- 26.1% were cropped Square
Food for thought…
Or I need a Hasselblad…
Examine your image statistics from time to time
Rikk Flohr © 2013
Holy Crop! is going to wax a little philosophical this morning with a bigger picture story.
All of our lives are cropped. The Crop Handles are dragged from our birth across the tapestry of our lives until our death. Sometimes the crop boundaries encompass all the pixels we can collect, and sometimes a life is cropped short. This was the case for my brother, Marvin who was laid to rest 10 years ago, Sunday. His was a life cropped short at the age of 37.
As I stumbled through my pre-DSLR archives looking for an appropriate image to chronicle the 10-year milestone, I happened upon this image taken at the previous year’s Renaissance Festival where he was photographed unveiling his latest creation – a Viking version of the stadium Foam-Dome. As I recall, it was a hit. After posting a brief remembrance on Facebook, I looked at the image again.
It needed a crop.
So, little brother, in honor of a life cropped short, I offer you this more powerful version of yourself with the flotsam jettisoned, and your life expanded to the frame’s edges. I would have liked to have done more for you but their exists no Content-Aware Fill for lives cropped short.
Rest in peace.
Rikk Flohr © 2013
Additional Crop Thoughts: Using the Golden Spiral
In the previous Fibonacci (or Golden Spiral) example, I used a landscape format example of a portrait that shows how the Lightroom Spiral overlay can be used to aid in a powerful composition in post production. Today, I thought it might be fun to show a recent image from my studio work in Portrait orientation with the same spiral overlay.
REVIEW: Crop overlays in Lightroom are accessed by invoking the Crop Tool [R] and then cycling through the overlays with the [O] key. When you arrive at the Golden Spiral (Fibonacci Sequence) overlay, the [Shift] [O] key combination will let you further cycle through the 8 variations of this spiral overlay: 4 clockwise and 4 counter clockwise originating from each corner.
This overlay is particularly useful in this image as the spiral mimics the overall shape of the posed figure. It was tempting to place the eye at the terminus of the spiral but I found that I liked the bounding curve cradling the jawline and the face slightly better. The Eye, the Nose, the Lips, the Jaw, the Ear and the hidden backside curve of the head all fall along the spiral’s curve .
The end result is a compelling image based upon this ancient compositional guide.
Rikk Flohr © 2013
Crop Thoughts: Using the Golden Spiral
Using the Fibonacci Sequence overlay in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom™ can be a challenge. Most people opt for a simpler Rule of Thirds overlay or a Golden Ratio overlay. Cycling through the Lightroom overlays using the [O] key brings you to the Fibonacci sequence. and its eight variations [Shift][O]. When do/can you use it?
I find this overlay particularly handy for placing a figure near the edge of a frame or, in this case, the eyes (or the sun or any other focal point) near two edges of the frame. It isn’t right for every image but it does work well for some. Look for ways to sweep the motion of an image along the path arriving at a pleasing destination. Also look for the spiral to contain and bound the important part of your subject.
If Rule of Thirds, Golden Ratio, Intersecting Diagonals and the like just aren’t cutting it for you. Spiral toward the edge and see where the path takes you.
Rikk Flohr © 2013
You crop in software – frame in-camera – and compose with your mind.
Rikk Flohr © 2011