In the previous articles I discussed the location of the various Power Points of the Lightroom™ Compositional Guides found in the Crop tool. The first dealt with a standard aspect ratio image, the second with a square aspect ratio image, and this installment explores the panoramic aspect ratio. For review: a Square image has an aspect ratio of 1:1, a panoramic of 2:1 or more, and a standard aspect ratio as those lying between square and panoramic. For simplicity we are not considering portrait orientation images as they are merely a 90° rotated incarnation of their respective landscape orientations.
Here is a panoramic crop with a Rule of Thirds compositional guide in use.
Here is the same image with a Golden Ratio grid instead.
Above is the same image with a Golden Spiral guide in use.
And finally, we have the Lightroom Triangles overlay in use.
If I overlay the four sets of Compositional Guides into layers on a single Photoshop™ image and set the blend mode to Lightness, we get the following composite. I have highlighted the four upper left power points in blue to make them easier to see.
In the previous articles I had used a red dot to indicate the power points but the red cardinal in this picture made that problematic so we switched to blue.
The first thing that strikes me differently about the panoramic crop and the distribution of the power points is that there is no longer the clearly defined cluster of three of the power points we found in square and standard aspect ratio images. Triangles has moved from the inside position on the Square, progressively outward through the standard aspect ratio until it sits as the outermost power point in the group when placed in a panoramic image. Note too, that the positions of the Golden Ratio, Rule of Thirds, and Golden Spiral have held their respective positions outward from the center for all three ratio families.
Looking at the guide overlays across the spectrum of aspect ratios, you can see the way the Triangles guide moves through the relatively static group of power points created by the other three guides. I find it fascinating that, in all cases, all the power points all lie along the corner-to-corner diagonal.
How can we use this knowledge to build a more strongly composed image when cropping?
Is it fair to say center-weighted compositions will do better using the Rule of Thirds or Golden Ratio guide? Can we also say that the more square an image is the less dramatic is the placement using the Triangles overlay? As we drift longer and wider do the Triangles and Golden Spiral become more powerful?
It is time to do a little homework, my apprentice cropists. Try out some of your favorite compositions – compositions with which you are truly pleased and cycle through the overlays. Examine which power point nails the subject best. I am betting you are going to begin to see some consistency in your choice of placement in relationship to your image’s aspect ratio.
I would love to hear some stories from your overlay adventures.
Rikk Flohr © 2014