…or Zoom With Their Feet
I know. It sounds like a Rocky and Bullwinkle ‘stay tuned for next week’ line.
We have all heard the adage to ‘zoom with our feet’ before and it applies well to the subtle art of cropping. In fact, the cropist could be heard saying ‘crop with your feet’. But there is also the adage that ‘good things come to those who wait’ and they do. Today, I want to talk about cropping with their feet-combining the best of ‘zoom with your feet’ and ‘good things come to those who wait’.
Every day, during Spring, I try to walk the three or four blocks to the local subdivision pond and see what’s shaking. Today, it was A Great Blue Heron (GBH). I took a test exposure to set my lighting with my 300 MM Lens and he/she looked appeared thusly. Using the large tree as a screen by placing it between me and the heron, I crept closer. Zooming (cropping if you will) with my feet.
This was the view from the base of the tree trunk with the 300MM F4L Canon lens on a 40D. I am laying in the short grass using the tree to conceal most of my body. Any movement now creates a risk of spooking the bird. Now it was time for patience. I had used my feet. It was time for the GBH to use its feet. As I waited, the heron, hunted obliviously, stalked closer to my make-shift blind.
Initially the bird and its reflection made a nice composition. As the bird crept closer, I lost the ability to include the entire bird and its reflection. It was cropping itself! What a great problem to have. I have far too many pictures of a GBH too small in-frame. Now I had exactly the opposite issue.
Soon the bird crept so close, I could no longer keep its width in the portrait orientation and I had to switch to landscape. Now, I had to lose all the reflections and struggle to hold the bird’s head in-frame.
Eventually, the GBH came so close that head and shoulder shots became the the best option. The bird actually crept to within 25 feet of the camera. Consider that the first image was taken at about 100 feet and I crept to within about 50 feet. Patience and stealth went a long way toward producing a heron portrait.
Note: All of theses images are out of the camera and have not been cropped in software. They have been cropped with my and the heron’s feet .
Moving subjects, if you carefully place yourself in their paths, will often continue to approach you. I have found this true with Bison, Sheep, Wild Turkeys and a host of others. If you can find out where they are going and, without disturbing them, place yourself along their future path, you will find that the in-camera cropping will occur naturally.
Crop with your feet; crop with theirs.
Rikk Flohr © 2011