Just a quick concept for today’s post: Identifying the Horizontal and accentuating it through the crop.
This is the raw capture from a recent studio shoot. Model Miss Maly, adorned in full costume, holds a Katana perfectly horizontal. I know because we worked hard on getting the sword level in the shot. Our model is pretty much dead center in frame. The shot is ok but it could be much a bit more dynamic.
- Space on right is not needed-at least not that much. It serves to center the model and we want to avoid that in most instances.
- Space below is not needed. There is little of our story there.
- Motion is horizontal. Crop can strengthen that.
- The eyes and the hands, key elements in the photo’s story, are arrayed more horizontally than vertically.
Items 3 and 4 tell me it makes sense to crop this image more horizontally than it is now. Our motion and our key elements identified. So the goal is to crop the image to emphasize its horizontal nature while taking away dead space below and to the right.
Rather than run you through my usual series of crops, I decided to go straight to the final image. (This was actually my first crop attempt) Just enough space was retained in the right hand margin to contain the pommel of the sword and allow for apparent motion. The bottom was cropped to contain the top orange band of the costume. The model is now just off center. I think the horizontal crop accentuates the line of the sword making it much more prominent in the final image. It doesn’t hurt that it slices the picture vertically either.
Look at your images and see what motion and subject orientation suggest. The choice of Portrait or Landscape should make itself evident.
Rikk Flohr © 2011
As much as I am an advocate of getting things right in-camera, sometimes the moment, the subject matter and an incredible amount of luck are required to get the shot. When this happens framing in-camera goes out the window. You get the shot-no matter and hope for enough room to crop later. Case in point: Flying Monkeys.
To the Crop Shop:
This is the original capture. I was setting up to shoot a troop of Central American Spider Monkeys as they moved tree-to-tree. The last monkey paused on a branch and started to bounce up and down. Instinctively I knew he was going to jump. In the split-second remaining, I threw my camera to my eye and caught four frames as the arboreal daredevil leapt. I prayed one of the images would be sharp. I got lucky.
After the euphoria of the capture it was time to post process. How could I improve upon luck?
In my analysis, I saw some things I could do in cropping to improve the image and increase the drama. First there were intruding twigs and leaves in the top left and right portions of the frame. I could crop in on these. The foliage at the lower left does little to help the image. In fact, cropping it out elevates the image making the monkey seemingly farther from the earth below. The sky above contributes little to the impact and the bright corner upper right is certainly distracting. A little off the top is in order.
Let’s talk monkey placement now. By curious fortune, the monkey ended up almost on the upper right power point of the Rule of thirds in the original capture. I liked the placement and tried to keep it. The Rule of Space says he should be leaping into more space than he is leaving behind. Then there is the concept of grounding. Grounding is probably an inapt term here but we do need take-off and landing areas to emphasize and scale the gulf across which he leapt. We’ll call it anchoring here since we are not dealing with a literal ‘ground’.
Taking all these things into consideration I finished with the crop you see below.
Distractions are now gone. Take-off and landing areas are established the Rule of space for movement is satisfied. We look more like treetops now than tree-sides.Rule of thirds has been honored. We truly have a flying monkey now and a stronger image.
True some of these items could have been tackled with cloning or burning in areas but it is always a little more satisfying to accomplish this through some judicial cropping. After all, I am the Cropist.
Rikk Flohr © 2011