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Surfer - does this crop work?
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Oct 9, 2021 02:40:14   #
Craigdca Loc: Pasadena, California
 
Ken Rockwell says to crop into the subject as much as possible to remove distractions and to make the subject larger. The challenge with this photo is that normally I would want the surfer moving into the frame more than heading out, but I want to include more whitewater than blue.


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Oct 9, 2021 02:47:44   #
Craigdca Loc: Pasadena, California
 
Canon T2i with Tokina lens.


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Oct 9, 2021 03:35:50   #
R.G. Loc: Scotland
 
Craigdca wrote:
Ken Rockwell says to crop into the subject as much as possible to remove distractions and to make the subject larger......


That advice is too simplistic. Yes, cropping in does increase focus on the subject by making it more prominent, but as you crop in you lose more and more context. There will be times when that is definitely not what you want. And yes, cropping in is one way to remove things that are not the subject, but non-subject stuff isn't always a distraction, and in addition to that it may be necessary for providing storytelling or context (don't forget that free space or open space can be part of the context). There is also the fact that it would be wrong to classify all non-subject things as unwanted distractions since some things are not as distracting as others (and therefore more tolerable).

Apart from that, there is no rule that says everything in a shot has to be subject oriented or subject related. It's perfectly acceptable to have non-subject stuff as additional interest.

Each situation will have its own optimal balance and it's up to the shooter/editor to weigh the need for subject prominence versus the need for context or storytelling, and to determine whether non-subject stuff is distracting or is it desirable as additional interest. Not every situation needs 100% exclusive focus on the subject.

In your posted shot you should be asking yourself how much prominence the subject needs. In the process of filling the frame with the subject you are breaking one of the other "rules" of composition, which is that it's usually better if the subject is not seen to be moving out of (or looking out of) the frame - which is what happens if the subject is too close to the edge of the frame or just too far beyond the centre of the frame.

A bit of open space in front of the surfer wouldn't go amiss either since it would be showing us what he's moving into. If you exclude something from the frame or if you have it too close to the edge of the frame you're implying that it's not important. If you don't give a moving subject space to move forward into you're implying that the forward movement isn't important.

You could also consider the fact that the surfer isn't competing for attention anyway since there's only him and the wave and the clear sea that he's moving towards.

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Oct 9, 2021 04:24:17   #
Delderby Loc: Derby UK
 
Ken Rockwell is a bit too self-opinionated.

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Oct 9, 2021 11:38:05   #
CamB Loc: Juneau, Alaska
 
Craigdca wrote:
Ken Rockwell says to crop into the subject as much as possible to remove distractions and to make the subject larger. The challenge with this photo is that normally I would want the surfer moving into the frame more than heading out, but I want to include more whitewater than blue.

This crop is much to tight for me. It feels crowded and there is no context. I want to see the wave and the destination.
…Cam

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Oct 9, 2021 11:41:08   #
Craigdca Loc: Pasadena, California
 
R.G. wrote:
That advice is too simplistic. Yes, cropping in does increase focus on the subject by making it more prominent, but as you crop in you lose more and more context. ...


R.G., thank you for your in-depth teaching. It reiterates what I had been learning and trying to practice but tossed out based on one guy’s advice. You cover context, non-subject items that add to the story, moving into and not out of the frame, balance as a cohesive whole so well that it could replace an entire textbook.

I’ve also used the masked curve layer technique to burn distractions just enough to put them in the shadows instead of cropping them out which would wreck the feeling if the photo.

As for the San Clemente Surfer, here he is again as I would have presented him had I not sen the Ken Rockwell article. I like 16x9 here to give him room to move while showing where he’s been without too much above or below him. And it works as a wallpaper.

I believe there could be room for improvement still and would like to hear feedback for this version also.

Thanks again,
Craig


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Oct 9, 2021 11:49:33   #
Craigdca Loc: Pasadena, California
 
Delderby wrote:
Ken Rockwell is a bit too self-opinionated.


Delderby, this is why I love UHH. Your candid opinion reminds me to question the validity of the articles I read on the Internet. We can’t believe everything we read on the internet, can we?

Thanks for the feedback. It’s exactly why I posted this

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Oct 9, 2021 12:13:33   #
R.G. Loc: Scotland
 
Craigdca wrote:
...I believe there could be room for improvement still and would like to hear feedback for this version also....


In the new crop we see the height of the wave and we get a better sense of movement, not to mention a better sense of being "out at sea". If the crop feels right to you, that's what matters most. Balance and dynamism can sometimes be conflicting priorities - too much of one and you lose too much of the other. An element of imbalance forces us to see the image from a less restful frame of mind, which in this case suits the subject perfectly.

One thing that's not composition related is the lighting on the surfer's face. Faces are usually a significant aspect of the image overall, even if we didn't particularly intend for it to be that way, and for that reason I'd recommend trying a bit of shadow lifting, just enough to make the features a bit easier to discern but not so much that it looks unnatural, and not so much that it brings out any noise that may be lurking in there.

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Oct 9, 2021 15:12:23   #
CamB Loc: Juneau, Alaska
 
Craigdca wrote:
R.G., thank you for your in-depth teaching. It reiterates what I had been learning and trying to practice but tossed out based on one guy’s advice. You cover context, non-subject items that add to the story, moving into and not out of the frame, balance as a cohesive whole so well that it could replace an entire textbook.

I’ve also used the masked curve layer technique to burn distractions just enough to put them in the shadows instead of cropping them out which would wreck the feeling if the photo.

As for the San Clemente Surfer, here he is again as I would have presented him had I not sen the Ken Rockwell article. I like 16x9 here to give him room to move while showing where he’s been without too much above or below him. And it works as a wallpaper.

I believe there could be room for improvement still and would like to hear feedback for this version also.

Thanks again,
Craig
R.G., thank you for your in-depth teaching. It rei... (show quote)


This is a much more interesting version.
…Cam

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Oct 9, 2021 15:14:48   #
Craigdca Loc: Pasadena, California
 
R.G. wrote:
In the new crop we see the height of the wave and we get a better sense of movement, not to mention a better sense of being "out at sea". If the crop feels right to you, that's what matters most. Balance and dynamism can sometimes be conflicting priorities - too much of one and you lose too much of the other. An element of imbalance forces us to see the image from a less restful frame of mind, which in this case suits the subject perfectly.

One thing that's not composition related is the lighting on the surfer's face. Faces are usually a significant aspect of the image overall, even if we didn't particularly intend for it to be that way, and for that reason I'd recommend trying a bit of shadow lifting, just enough to make the features a bit easier to discern but not so much that it looks unnatural, and not so much that it brings out any noise that may be lurking in there.
In the new crop we see the height of the wave and ... (show quote)


All good points, R.G. I settled on this crop after several ratios and sizes as it felt right to me, exactly the subjective quality you described. The shadows were too dark to bring out any further after cleaning up the noise you also mentioned. It’s the challenge of losing in the highlights or in the shadows during the high contrast moment of direct sunlight at the end of the day. Maybe a new camera to replace my T2i will help with this when I eventually get it.

This has been a good exercise and I appreciate the feedback

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Oct 9, 2021 15:16:26   #
Craigdca Loc: Pasadena, California
 
CamB wrote:
This is a much more interesting version.
…Cam


Thanks, Cam. It’s the one I’d choose, too.

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Oct 9, 2021 16:00:01   #
R.G. Loc: Scotland
 
Craigdca wrote:
....Maybe a new camera to replace my T2i will help with this when I eventually get it....


It looks like you'd make good use of it.

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Oct 9, 2021 16:37:50   #
Craigdca Loc: Pasadena, California
 
R.G. wrote:
It looks like you'd make good use of it.



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Oct 10, 2021 07:11:41   #
anotherview Loc: California
 
Picture works as is compositionally. It captures a dynamic moment. Note the three graphic masses: white water, surfer, and green water to his left. This arrangement compels the eye.

KR has it right as a rule, as a guideline.
Craigdca wrote:
Ken Rockwell says to crop into the subject as much as possible to remove distractions and to make the subject larger. The challenge with this photo is that normally I would want the surfer moving into the frame more than heading out, but I want to include more whitewater than blue.

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Oct 10, 2021 07:13:31   #
anotherview Loc: California
 
Your shot could improve by lifting the shadows and desaturating the reds for browning the skintone.
Craigdca wrote:
Ken Rockwell says to crop into the subject as much as possible to remove distractions and to make the subject larger. The challenge with this photo is that normally I would want the surfer moving into the frame more than heading out, but I want to include more whitewater than blue.

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