This exercise did cause me to look at many of my old photographs in a different way and all too often provoked the question in my mind “why on earth did I compose the shot that way?”. In the shots I eventually selected two of them were quick fire, the sparrowhawk a fleeting visitor and the rugby shot a fleeting moment, which goes some way to answering my question. However, there is still that issue of get it right in camera and less time spent in front of the computer, but I must be thankful for the fact that there is that option. The shots below are the full frame versions with a cropped copy and I will try to explain my rationale for the cropping.
The full frame shot of the bird was all about capturing the moment of success in a hunt and I was intent on recording the look and posture. Its chosen perch was enough to indicate the setting and so there was a good deal of dead space (forgive the pun!) in the picture. By cropping the shot I was able to eliminate the unwanted areas, position the sparrowhawk according to the rule of thirds and produce an image that captures the essence of this bird of prey in one of its hunting grounds.
I came across this fence in a local park when looking for an image to illustrate form and texture; the linear wooden fence, a natural product yet formed by man into an un-natural shape, set amongst the trees. In the event I took the shot to illustrate what I consider to be a mindless act of vandalism, an aspect of our society which is most distasteful. When reviewing the shot for this exercise it occurred to me that cropping it would produce a leading line from the bottom left of the frame and lead the eye along the fence to really highlight the ugliness of the graffiti and its impact on the surroundings.
The joys of sport photography, pounding up and down the touchline in the hope of getting close enough to the action in time to get that shot! This was a day when I think quantity got the better of quality. In this case, having anticipated the next phase of play, I decided to stop running in the hope of framing the action; I was at the limit of my zoom lens. Reviewing the shot suggested a close crop of the player with a vertical frame may produce an image approaching something one might see in the magazines but clearly this was not to be my Johnny Wilkinson moment! However, what it does illustrate is that cropping is a useful tool, particularly when it gives you the chance to produce an image that may define a moment more clearly.
I think there is much more for me to learn about this technique and the possibilities it opens up. I have used Adobe Lightroom 4 for this exercise and in the process learned many new features of the cropping tool which I am keen to further explore and, maybe, breath new life into some old images. I am still minded to concentrate on getting it right in camera but safe in the knowledge that something may be recovered from those shots that are short of the mark. Also there are some interesting abstracts or unusual views that can be generated.
Digital Photography School (2013), Lightroom4 cropping tool in complete detail. Available from: http:/http://digital-photography-school.com/lightroom-4-cropping-tool-in-complete-detail [Accessed: April 19, 2013].
Freeman, M. (2007), The photographer’s eye Composition and design for better digital photos, The Ilex Press Limited, Lewes.
Prakel, D. (2006), Basics photography 01 Composition, 2nd ed, AVA Publishing SA, Lausanne.