What is ShareCropping?
This month’s willing victim is Lyle Krahn. Lyle contributed his sunset over flooded fields image for the cropist to mangle.
Above is Lyle’s excellent image in the uncropped 3:2 aspect ratio. The image has a lot going for it and is pretty well-framed in-camera so my work, once again, is cut out for me.
Looking over Lyle’s image, I see the following items that need consideration while cropping.
- The foreground fence is a great detail. It really pushes the rest of the image back giving considerable depth. It really limits cropping because anything removing the fence will reduce image depth and likely appeal.
- The bright colors on the far right horizon are perhaps a little too bright and pull us away from that sunset glow.
- There are some great areas of secondary color that must be dealt with. The square marked in the sky is near the brightest point of the image and must be considered a compositional element along with the deep magenta sunset glow.
- The sky at the top is bright and near the edge. It tends to pull our eyes upward and potentially out of frame. Is there too much? Perhaps. Only cropping will tell.
My first inclination is to go wide with a slightly more than 2:1 aspect ratio. I knew the fence was going to be the elephant in the frame around which to work. I decided to give it prominence first and compare all others to it. After all, the photographer deliberately framed it in this way, he must have felt it very important. Coming down into the dark clouds eliminates the light edge at the top while still retaining the depth. This crop still retains the delicious colors with the exception of the afore-mentioned top square.
With the look-through-the-fence out of the way, I stared working on my go-to ratios for Landscapes. This is the 2:1 favorite of the group. It all-but-eliminates the foreground and really puts the sunset glow into the spotlight. The light framing around the clouds really pulls the eye out of the frame. The image appears a little left-heavy.
Going 3:1 I decided I liked the entire width of the image. I kept the sunset glow on the lower left rule-of-thirds power point. The reflections appear stronger in the wider view. The balance is better left to right but the bright spot in the foreground is pulling me out again.
I decided to take a quick look at the 5:1 aspect ratio. Again balance is better, reflections are strong and the sun glow is well-placed. The wider crop suffers from the lower off-center bright spot as well. Normally I would fix this otherwise than cropping but at Holy Crop! we limit ShareCropping to just the slice-and-dice.
I thought perhaps a square crop would allow me to isolate the foreground fence detail and the sunset glow. I still have the brightness problems on right side but have regained the depth. The symmetry of the clouds is more obvious in this crop. Balance is livable.
Offsetting the square crop to remove the fence post but retain the fence was my next instinct. Balance and depth are retained and we contain that bright space in the upper right power point. Reflection symmetry seems to suffer and I miss than anchoring fence post. The fence wire seems to be floating. It doesn’t jive with our sensibilities.
I decided to drop in a few vertical crops and see what would happen.
Of the three, the last is probably the least appealing. It has too much brightness top left surrounding too much darkness bottom and right.
The middle image is interesting and has decent composition. The unsupported floating wired makes it a little less desirable.
The top image retains our post and our sunset glow. Reflection Symmetry is the most pronounced. Depth is excellent and our eye flows most naturally. Of the portrait crops, this is the most appealing.
All of the victim-submitted images thus far have had that element that prevents Crop Rotation. Horizons keep me on the level. Fortunately, the images in Crop Shop have had some rotation going on. If you want to see rotation, drift over to the Crop Shop.
I decided that this was a perfect image for a little rule-breaking. The reflections are so great that you really need to divide the frame with the horizon to enhance the symmetry of the reflections. I decided to throw “Dead-center is Deadly” out the window. The scattered grass sticking up through the water and the leading fence line down the right side serve to break the pattern and provide weight to the lower portion of the image.
The fence is gone but I count on the grass to keep the depth in the picture. I agonized over the fence and the post. A few things made me take them out. First, the weight of the dark post in the corner took too much attention from the sun’s glow. Second, the fence post aptly supported the fence but the lack of another on the right side (or even better, three or five fence posts) still leaves the wire ungrounded. Lastly, the fence is a psychological barrier. My eyes stop at it subconsciously. I want to be in the scene not excluded from the scene. Ultimately I decided it was as much distraction as enhancement.
My final crop honors the reflection as well as the sunset. It retains the depth and keeps the delicious sunset-lit clouds across the entire width of the frame. The visual interest and the near-apophenic appearance of the mirrored shapes of the clouds makes this, for me at least, a more compelling image. For those of you keeping score at home, the final aspect ratio ended being 2.5:1 or 5:2.
These are one man’s opinions and your tastes may vary. In fact, you might think I am full of crop. You would be right. After all, I am the Cropist.
Thanks to Lyle for being November 2010’s victim and catch Holy Crop’s next issue of ShareCropping on the second of December.
Rikk Flohr © 2010
Image is © Lyle Krahn
Lyle Krahn’s corporate communications career supports an addiction to camera gear and an endless pursuit of better wildlife and nature photos around his home deep in the Canadian prairies (Saskatoon) and in the Rocky Mountains, a favorite holiday destination.
Lyle’s website may only be a gleam in his eye, but it’s a very good gleam!
I was on a photo drive in the country a few miles from home when I stumbled upon this scene as the sun was setting. After an unusually wet summer, water levels are higher everywhere including the edge of this farmer’s field.