The excerpts from a photo shoot I want to share today are from Butchart Gardens just outside of Victoria, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. My photography doesn’t even begin to do justice to the beauty of these gardens. What started out on the personal estate of the Butchart family and their cement quarry has evolved into a National Historic Site of Canada. I chose this backdrop for today’s example in cropping photographs.
Cropping: to cut the edges to produce a better picture or fit a given space.
I want to talk today about cropping a photograph to produce a better picture and/or pictures as in the examples. I talked about this awhile ago when I had a client ask me to take a landscape picture I had created and turn it into two portrait prints for their wall (reference my blog: Fountain Urns). A similar theme surfaced this week as I was working on some new art prints for the Gardens Collection. I am constantly renewing and updating the different galleries or collections. As I add new items, I take older ones out and/or re-look and refresh them. I came across some prints that were a few years old and with a fresh eye starting cropping and playing with them. I wasn’t doing anything extreme, just resizing some of the older prints to more standard sizes. In doing that exercise I found myself creating two completely different looks to what was once a single print. To show you the best example, I went back to the original photograph that these prints had been created from.
This first shot is the original photograph of a lily pond. If you look closely to the left and center, you can see people walking through the gardens. I love this shot and have been fortunate enough to have it featured in a couple of different showings. The different elements of plant life and lighting create a flow across the picture. Let’s dig a little deeper and look at the lighting. The sky is overcast and we have the left half of the frame in shade and the right half in sunlight.
Again, the difference makes an interesting picture and pulls your eye across the print. But, what if we just played with it a little bit. In the second picture, I cropped the left portion of the frame into a square. See how it created a different look to the scene? You have the light accenting just the right edge and the foreground.
Let’s crop and square the right side, which I did in number three. In this version your photograph is brighter and there is more of a focus on the reflection in the pond.
This example of cropping wasn’t about taking a bad picture and making it better, but looking at what you have and what more could you do with it. What elements of a shot change by cropping the picture a little differently? Where does it shift your focus? These are just things to think about as you evaluate your photography. Thoughts?
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