Classic Rule of 3/7 Placement
Greetings, Holy Crop! readers. The road has been long, the flights frequent and the time short this past month. My apologies for the scarcity of articles. With the normally busy early fall schedule rapidly passing, there is finally time to devote to the subtle science and delicate art that is the crop.
Today, I am sharing an in-camera framing from the recent Stylistec, Shoot Print & Frame the North Shore workshop. The fading rainbow is the subject set against a stunning backdrop of clouds and an angry Lake Superior. The Rule of Thirds dictated the placement of the rainbow stump in my framing. The direction of the sun’s rays from top left to bottom right suggested upon which rule to place the subject-the right hand rule. All that remained, was the best placement of the horizon.
Looking at the distant lake and the sky as opposing elements, it is quite clear that the sky is the star and deserves to dominate. Had I chosen to let the lake dominate, the waves would have formed a competing foreground distraction to our distant rainbow. I had already decided that this was a picture of a rainbow so I needed to reinforce it as the subject-even thought it is so small in-frame. In this quick mockup you can see how the waves would steal the “thunder” from the rainbow and the sky. When I was framing in-camera, I decided I needed a Rule of Sevenths placement for the horizon to really let that dynamic sky dominate the lake. The sky has six times the allotted space as the lake and really tells us what this image is about.
Subject on the Rule of Thirds and Horizon on the Rule of Sevenths is usually a winning combination.
Rikk Flohr © 2013
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
Sometimes the stars align and the objects with which you are presented in your view finder are perfect for the camera’s native 3:2 aspect ratio. This shot is one of those times. The normal reasons we crop, to strengthen composition, remove distractions, fit the matting or framing are all unnecessary here. Careful in-camera framing and the appropriate subject means we have all our pixels intact.
Sometimes (not often) the best crop is choosing not to crop.
Rikk Flohr © 2013
Note: This image is for sale by contacting me at the link above.