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Author Topic: Another Cropping problem  (Read 6083 times)
Ray
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« on: February 06, 2007, 07:48:10 PM »
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In view of the recent thread on aspect ratios and cropping, which seemed to generate some differences of opinion as to whether to crop at all, and that perhaps cropping is just a cover-up for incompetence, I thought I'd post the following image which might highlight the subtleties of cropping.

My own view is, it doesn't matter much if this image is cropped or not, but nevertheless, one wonders. Any improvement is better than none.

The first image is uncropped. The next 3 are cropped versions about which I am unsure. Does it really matter at all if this image is cropped or not?

[attachment=1770:attachment]  [attachment=1771:attachment]  [attachment=1772:attachment]  

[attachment=1773:attachment]
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jani
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2007, 04:25:14 PM »
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In view of the recent thread on aspect ratios and cropping, which seemed to generate some differences of opinion as to whether to crop at all, and that perhaps cropping is just a cover-up for incompetence, I thought I'd post the following image which might highlight the subtleties of cropping.

My own view is, it doesn't matter much if this image is cropped or not, but nevertheless, one wonders. Any improvement is better than none.

The first image is uncropped. The next 3 are cropped versions about which I am unsure. Does it really matter at all if this image is cropped or not?
The following is purely subjective, but I can explain how it works/doesn't work for me.

I'm not particularly happy with any of the suggestions. Either they show too much, or they show too little.

1: Too top-heavy sky, left side tower adds little.
2: The only interesting bit of the right side is cropped out, too tight crop on left side, and the interesting pattern in the sky is cropped too tight for this chosen format.
3: Solved the last part of problems with image 2.
4: Too tightly cropped at top and bottom, the Sun wants more space around it, also in the reflection.

But I genuinely like the image itself, the patterns in the sky, the reflections, the water plants (water lillies or lotus?), the colours, the play of silhouettes and patterns, and the really discreet tree close to the shoreline. It's lovely, and I keep returning to the image.

I think these two crops work better, but I think the first one's a bit too open in the top, and might actually prefer the last one.

[attachment=1790:attachment]

[attachment=1791:attachment]

Conclusion: the subject matter doesn't appear to lend itself well to a 2/3 or 3/4 format camera, but rather closer to a 1/2 vertical. A crop is therefore completely necessary.

Of course, I wasn't there, so I don't know what I'd have done with what is outside of the frame.
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Jan
Ray
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2007, 07:56:38 PM »
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Of course, I wasn't there, so I don't know what I'd have done with what is outside of the frame.
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Jani,  
Does this shot appeal more to your esthetic sensibilities?

[attachment=1793:attachment]

Totally uncropped again   .

Water lilies or lotus? Definitely lotus. The temple spires are supposed to mimic the shape of lotus.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2007, 08:04:59 PM by Ray » Logged
jani
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2007, 02:51:02 AM »
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Jani, 
Does this shot appeal more to your esthetic sensibilities?
Not to mine, but probably to someone else's.

And you've made me slightly envious.  
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Jan
Ray
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2007, 08:17:30 AM »
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What about the conventional red-sky sunrise shots? How do these grab you?

[attachment=1797:attachment]  [attachment=1798:attachment]
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2007, 09:28:46 AM »
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What about the conventional red-sky sunrise shots? How do these grab you?

[attachment=1797:attachment]  [attachment=1798:attachment]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=100018\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Disclaimer: it's easy to second-guess and nit-pick, and I wasn't there, so this is definitely only IMO  

The first one (on the left) is more interesting to me.  Wasn't sure at first how I felt about the square crop but it grows on me.  My uncertainty was because so many of the elements are horizontal.  But there is a nice tension between the color in the sky and water and the dark silhouettes so it works.

The second is pleasant, but perhaps too symmetrical top and bottom/left and right.  I would have liked to have had the temple a bit more off-center and greater emphasis on either the sky or water.

Paul
« Last Edit: February 09, 2007, 09:30:39 AM by PaulS » Logged

Ray
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2007, 09:56:54 AM »
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The first one (on the left) is more interesting to me.  Wasn't sure at first how I felt about the square crop but it grows on me.  My uncertainty was because so many of the elements are horizontal.  But there is a nice tension between the color in the sky and water and the dark silhouettes so it works.

The second is pleasant, but perhaps too symmetrical top and bottom/left and right.  I would have liked to have had the temple a bit more off-center and greater emphasis on either the sky or water.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=100026\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Maybe I should provide the uncropped images in case anyone has some better ideas for cropping, or perhaps even not cropping at all   .

[attachment=1799:attachment]  [attachment=1800:attachment]
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howiesmith
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2007, 10:21:34 AM »
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What about the conventional red-sky sunrise shots? How do these grab you?

[attachment=1797:attachment]  [attachment=1798:attachment]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=100018\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Actually, they don't.

The one on the right looks like it is drooping to the left.  If it is actually level, it doesn't look that way, and this is a visual thing.  If it is drooping to the right, it either was desired to be, and in my opinion, looks strange.  If it is drooping, and shouldn't be, it should have been repaired prior to submitting.  Why not give this crit our best efforts.  I would also crop a bunch of the foreground.  As is, the sky and its reflection are about equally important.  I think the sky is the image.

The one on the left needs to have the bottom cropped.  The dead-looking beach adds nothing to a sunrise.  Then it looks a bit top heavy and needs dome top cropped to balance it up.  When taking the image, it might have been better had the camera been moved closer to the water to crop the beach in camera, making the reflection go more to the left than it does.  The big black area on the left where the build and beach run together is just too big and too black (no interest).

In both, I would clean up the water (foreground).  The plants (debris?) I is distracting.
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Ray
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2007, 05:57:48 AM »
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The one on the right looks like it is drooping to the left.  If it is actually level, it doesn't look that way, and this is a visual thing.  If it is drooping to the right, it either was desired to be, and in my opinion, looks strange.  If it is drooping, and shouldn't be, it should have been repaired prior to submitting.

It's a small matter but thanks for mentioning it. If I decide to print this I'll fix it. These are not finished images ready for printing.

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The one on the left needs to have the bottom cropped.  The dead-looking beach adds nothing to a sunrise.  Then it looks a bit top heavy and needs dome top cropped to balance it up.  When taking the image, it might have been better had the camera been moved closer to the water to crop the beach in camera, making the reflection go more to the left than it does.  The big black area on the left where the build and beach run together is just too big and too black (no interest).

It's not actually a beach but a rainy-season puddle. I kept the foreground dark because I didn't think it was interesting. As you can see in the following 'blending' of bracketed shots, there are a few people wandering around.

[attachment=1809:attachment]
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howiesmith
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2007, 03:38:47 PM »
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It's a small matter ... . These are not finished images ready for printing.

I kept the foreground dark because I didn't think it was interesting. As you can see in the following 'blending' of bracketed shots, there are a few people wandering around.

[attachment=1809:attachment]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=100154\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I have never understood why photographers do not take care of the small matters before submitting an image for comments.  Maybe they aren't interested in their own work, while still expecting others to be.  Go figrue.

I agree.  Nothing interesting with more detail.  And nothing interesting as big black area.  Maybe there just wasn't anything interesting overthere from the start.
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Ray
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2007, 05:31:46 PM »
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I have never understood why photographers do not take care of the small matters before submitting an image for comments.  Maybe they aren't interested in their own work, while still expecting others to be.  Go figrue.

Howard,
You are not making much sense. It's almost as though you have some preconceived gripes and prejudices and are searching for a means of expressing them by trying to match up such preconceptions with possible imperfections in my images.

Let's have a closer look at what you actually said.

Quote: Howard.

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The one on the right looks like it is drooping to the left. If it is actually level, it doesn't look that way, and this is a visual thing. If it is drooping to the right, it either was desired to be, and in my opinion, looks strange. If it is drooping, and shouldn't be, it should have been repaired prior to submitting. Why not give this crit our best efforts. I would also crop a bunch of the foreground. As is, the sky and its reflection are about equally important. I think the sky is the image.

Having checked with the grid, the photo on the right as initially presented is drooping towards the left. However, when corrected, it then looks as though it's drooping towards the right. When cropping this image, I would have been aware of this, instinctively perhaps, and attempted a compromise as perhaps being the best approach.

Now that you have brought this to the forefront of my attention, for which I thank you, I think I might prefer the temple and reflection to be vertical, even though this creates the impression the image is now drooping towards the right.

I'm well aware that a horizon that 'looks' as though it's not quite level is sometimes better 'made level', even though in reality the horizon was like that, not quite level.

Since you have demonstrated your awareness of the dilemma in this image, that there's a visual peculiarity here which prevents the image from appearing as though it has a perfectly level horizon, it seems hardly justified for you to criticise me for not correcting the impossible. Having recogised there's a problem here which cannot be corrected with normal cropping, a more helpful approach would have been for you to have suggested an alternative method of fixing the problem.

Here's the corrected image with temple made vertical.

[attachment=1810:attachment]

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I agree.  Nothing interesting with more detail.  And nothing interesting as big black area.  Maybe there just wasn't anything interesting overthere from the start.

Howard, don't waste your time criticising images that are not the slightest bit interesting for you. I don't. If you find sunrises generally boring because there are so many of them, then say so. If you are not sure if there's anything interesting here, then say so. (But I guess you did, didn't you ) .
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howiesmith
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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2007, 08:21:22 PM »
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"Howard, don't waste your time criticising images that are not the slightest bit interesting for you. I don't. If you find sunrises generally boring because there are so many of them, then say so. If you are not sure if there's anything interesting here, then say so. (But I guess you did, didn't you )."

OK, I won't offer any more opinions of your images.  So much for being honest.  Honesty doesn't seem to work if someone doesn't like the effort given.
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Ray
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« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2007, 08:26:26 PM »
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I would also crop a bunch of the foreground.  As is, the sky and its reflection are about equally important.  I think the sky is the image.
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I forgot to address this point (my outrage was so great   ).

For me, both the sky and its reflection are equally important. That's how I envsaged it when I took the shot. If I now crop the reflection to give prominence to the sky, I feel I'm cropping away detail which I like. It might not be considered good practice, generally, to have an image equally divided across the middle like this, but there are always exceptions.

Whilst I appreciate any feedback and alternative points of view, ultimately it's my decision of course, as I'm sure you'd agree. I'm far more doubtful about the degree of cropping on both ends.
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jani
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« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2007, 01:12:45 PM »
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What about the conventional red-sky sunrise shots? How do these grab you?
They nearly grab me, but not really.

The left one just doesn't interest me a lot, but the scene probably had potential. The problems I see is that it's too bottom-heavy because of the large, dark areas. Presented with black matting, that might help.

The right one is in trouble. I'd consider geometrical correction, since the horizon formed by the trees and the temple seems curved. Selecting which side should droop will only compound the problem. But correcting that part of the geometry will render the reflections wrong. So in that regard, it's not really salvageable.

However, I think the reflection is considerably more interesting than the "true" image, probably because of the subjectively better colours and contrasts. I'd suggest cropping away either the reflection (and adjust the contrast) or the top (and experiment with flipping the image).

Perhaps something vaguely inspired by this:

[attachment=1814:attachment]

[attachment=1815:attachment]
« Last Edit: February 11, 2007, 01:22:08 PM by jani » Logged

Jan
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« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2007, 05:25:37 PM »
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"Howard, don't waste your time criticising images that are not the slightest bit interesting for you. I don't. If you find sunrises generally boring because there are so many of them, then say so. If you are not sure if there's anything interesting here, then say so. (But I guess you did, didn't you )."

OK, I won't offer any more opinions of your images.  So much for being honest.  Honesty doesn't seem to work if someone doesn't like the effort given.
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Howard,
As much as I welcome and appreciate your comments, some of your statements just do not come across as being honest, in my opinion. I see them as being more in the nature of snide implications which are not at all helpful and seem to be motivated by a desire to undermine my efforts.

For example, take one of your following comments.
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Maybe there just wasn't anything interesting overthere from the start.

It's axiomatic that there was something interesting over there, firstly because this is one of the most amazing ruins on the planet, and secondly because I was there and didn't press the shutter accidentally.

A more honest comment would have been along the lines, 'Whatever it was that captured your interest in this shot, you haven't succeeded in conveying it through the photo'.

Likewise, in another thread on cropping, you made what I consider to be another undermining, snide remark, along the lines, 'Cropping will not change the fact that this is a document of someone else's art work', a completely fatuous remark in my opinion, because cropping is not a tool to change the identity of the object being photographed. You can't change a flower into a house or a motorcar or a skyscraper by cropping.

A more honest remark would have been something like, 'I generally don't find photographic reproductions of works of art at all interesting and therefore I don't see how cropping this image would make it more interesting or improve it in any way.'

Okay! A critique of the critic.  
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Ray
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« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2007, 05:30:10 PM »
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Perhaps something vaguely inspired by this:

[attachment=1814:attachment]

[attachment=1815:attachment]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=100345\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Thanks for your suggestions, Jani, but I have to say I prefer the totally uncropped version as originally shot, despite its flaws.  
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« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2007, 08:52:10 PM »
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It's axiomatic that there was something interesting over there, firstly because this is one of the most amazing ruins on the planet, and secondly because I was there and didn't press the shutter accidentally.
But that doesn't automatically mean you took an interesting photograph.
My view of your images are they are lacking a certain something. It'a a nice place and a nice sky but I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment "It might not be considered good practice, generally, to have an image equally divided across the middle like this, but there are always exceptions." Well my view is that this is not one of those exceptions. In screenwriting there a a useful bit of advice that is apposite here 'Don't be afraid to kill your darlings', i.e. don't get too precious about your work and be prepared to reject good parts for the benefit of the whole.
 This is not as you mentioned above 'snide implications which are not at all helpful and seem to be motivated by a desire to undermine my efforts', but simply my humble opinion of how well your images work for me and some well meaning advice.
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Ray
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« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2007, 11:00:51 PM »
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But that doesn't automatically mean you took an interesting photograph.

Of course it doesn't. But likewise, because you don't find it interesting doesn't mean it's not interesting, period. The image is submitted for opinions and helpful criticism and also in order to illustrate and explore the process of cropping and how it may help an image.  

There is really no problem in my junking this image, apart from the fact it is distinctly different from the many other sunrise shots I took at this location. Since storage is cheap I shall not delete it.

Statement such as, 'boring', 'uninteresting' are not snide comments. I haven't criticised Howard for not liking the image.
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jani
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« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2007, 10:12:37 AM »
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Statement such as, 'boring', 'uninteresting' are not snide comments. I haven't criticised Howard for not liking the image.
And if that had been what you reacted to, I would've expected similar remarks to my comments to your images.
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Jan
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« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2007, 08:12:48 PM »
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And if that had been what you reacted to, I would've expected similar remarks to my comments to your images.
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Well put, Jani. If one goes to the beginning of the thread, it should be clear that I'm exploring the possibilities and potential of cropping to improve images of somewhat dubious value.

Apart from the 'bloody red' sunrise with excessively dark shadows, I still can't make up my mind if any of these images are more pleasing to me when cropped. It might be due to the fact that these images are simply beyond imrovement by any form of cropping. They should perhaps be junked. However, there might be an interesting principle here, that certain images simply cannot be improved by cropping, whether they are good or bad.

Of course, such a principle can never be completely objective. One person's idea of improvement is another person's idea of the opposite, err.. what's the opposite of improvement? Degradation?
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