Yeah, I like that crop better. The color and shadows looked better in the first one, at least to me. Seems like the contrast has increased. With glossy media there may be too much contrast. This is obviously personal preference.
One comment about cropping: I noticed you are sticking to 4x5 or 2x3. I used to stick to the common ratios, 4x5/8x10, 2x3, 5x7, 11x14, etc. Last year I took Michael up on his Printing One-on-One
session and spent a day with him (highly recommended for anyone, by the way, he's a fascinating person and marvelous teacher). He managed to liberate me from those constraints. Nature isn't cropped, and although one could argue certain ratios are more pleasing than others, I believe the subject should determine the ratio.
Perhaps you are limited by a pre-cut matte board, but other than that, let random cropping begin!
This barn looks like one of many I saw in Eastern TN when I was there a few years ago. Where is it?
Thanks again, David. The barn is located on our family farm in Clarksville, TN (northwest central TN). When I was recropping this image, I definitely limited myself to standard ratios, both for framing reasons and because it seemed like the "right" thing to do. But, I have to agree with you, nature isn't cropped, and if one cares enough about a photo, its subject should dictate its frame. I've been recently studying the classic rules of composition in order to improve my images, and they've made a difference- those rules have arisen for a reason.
With respect to the increased contrast: I partially blended a B/W version in "linear light" mode, with some selective masking. You're probably right- the contrast is a bit much (good thing I saved the original). When I saw the tobacco leaves at that perspective, they looked pretty creepy. I am trying to make the barn look like a halloween monster, with the leaves as teeth in a giant mouth. Hopefully, I'll get that look when I'm done.