Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cropping Decisions

I was wandering at lunch time and headed towards a school on the lower west side. In the shot below, I first noticed the woman hunched over the baby carriage (think she's on a cell phone). I rattled off about 5 shots and noticed an interesting number of elements, each of which could be a picture. As a whole, however, this shot seems to hinge on the man in the center, not the baby carriage woman. He's the hub of the photo but not really what I wanted to emphasize. So, it made sense to do a little cropping.

Besides the woman to the right, there is some interest on the left side if you draw attention there. The guy with the sunglasses is still the main draw, but there is a balance. The school bus is a nice background piece, the little crosswalk symbol saying to walk is a nice element. There could be a pleasing composition if it was done like this (right).

You could even take this same shot of the grouping on the left and move in closer, drawing attention to the guy even further behind. He seems to be inspired and looking off into space. Being out of focus kind of adds to his mood of thoughtfulness. Also the little crosswalk man could be what is in his imagination.

Getting back to the original focus on the right side of the shot... The look of happiness on the woman with the baby carriage seems like it should be emphasized. But, looking above her to the rear, there are two guys speaking. Another nice compositional balance. They could also be a focal point (right).

In the end though, to emphasize the woman in the baby carriage, the balance needs to be redistributed on the right to minimize the prominence of the man in the center. To do this, the left side of the picture needs to be eliminated completely. After cropping for this, I found a shadow on the sidewalk to be distracting and removed that. Also the backlighting is dramatic but made the buggy woman's face a bit hard to see, so I isolated her and brightened very slightly.

That could be enough, but classic street photography tends to be more gritty if it is rendered in black and white. To do that though, the trade-off was to lose the attraction of the yellow school bus in the rear. As I find the color of the bus draws your eye away from the woman in the buggy, the black and white tends to help to meet the original objective of the original street observation. The final shot looks like this below.

No comments: