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
The new Facebook Timeline sucks — Period! Unless, of course, you only post 4×3 aspect ratio, landscape-oriented pictures. No Fine Art Allowed – apparently. After the gains made on the last Timeline update for the display of photography, it was time for Facebook to screw it up again.
This 4×3 (roughly) aspect ratio of a boat on Mirror Lake fares pretty well.
This portrait image of a Yellow-bellied Sap Sucker is a nice 2:3. Too bad Facebook crops it to 4:3 on your timeline and ruins your presentation.
And if your image exceeds a landscape oriented 4:3 aspect ratio as in this example of Peter and Paul Church in Hebron, ND, well, Facebook will chop off the ends for you – including removing a copyright watermark. Is that legal? Think that might be a DCMA violation. They probably have a hidden EULA to cover that…
No matter how carefully you crop your images, the new Facebook timeline will be your nemesis. It doesn’t care what you do, it will turn your image into a cell phone picture, bending your artistic will to their myopic window. Face it; Facebook doesn’t care about your photos.They need to preserve that space for advertisements.
Oh, and that fabulous Highlight feature I wrote about last June (Read Here). You can kiss that goodbye. It is still there but I am not sure what it does anymore. There is no visual difference.
Facebook must want to get rid of photographers. Maybe it is time to get rid of them.
Rikk Flohr © 2013
Sometimes breaking the compositional rules results in the happiest of accidents — a picture you hate to love… but you gotta…
Ok, I was tight. The model threw her head to her right and I snapped. I cut off her forehead, the end of her nose and, in general, botched the capture. Oops! The Rule of Space has been brutally violated as there is nearly negative space in which to look. Maybe your opinion differs from mine, but this image speaks to me. It is an absolute compositional disaster in the conventional sense but it has emotion. Is it possible the raw emotional feel transcends composition?
I blew it on this capture folks but you know what, I love it.
Rikk Flohr © 2013
In his latest blog post, Moose Peterson rails, gently albeit, against the art of post-capture cropping and I would have to agree that several of his points are quite valid. He talks about appropriate lens and distance from subject and getting it right in camera which the Holy Crop! blog applauds. I even admire the passion he feels for getting the best possible image at shutter snap. Ultimately, I find his admonitions fall short of reality as they proceed from an base assumption that is flawed.
Just the old cropist’s opinion here but Moose’s cropping philosophy is based upon an erroneous notion that a 3:2 Aspect ratio, or whatever ratio at which your camera captures, is the true and best aspect for the final image. In a world where 3:2 is your only output aspect ratio, Moose’s comments are very valid. Unfortunately, the space in which your image’s subject ultimately lives is hardly, if ever 3:2. My Monitor is 16:9 for example, a Facebook cover photo is 8.51:3.14, for example. I can’t fit those 3:2 aspect images into these spaces without slicing something off. Cropping is a real world necessity.
On another front, an image can be made stronger than the capture aspect ratio as in the moose shot (small “M”) shown above. The top and bottom portions removed aren’t really important to the image but, as you frequent readers know, the space and placement is. Why would you ever limit the aspect ratio of your output to the limitations of your capture device?
The output aspect ratio should make your image the strongest it can be.
Just a quick note: Moose is careful to say this is ‘his way’ and that every photographer must find their own path.
You can read Moose’s article here.
Rikk Flohr © 2012