Saturday, March 5, 2011

Custom crops ... and leftovers

This is a post about radical crops -- and leftovers. OK, re the latter, I should be ashamed. I am, and I admit it, so let's move on.

I've done something with three of my images from the Feb. 25 shoot in Garfield Park in Indianapolis that I hadn't done too much of before, and that is to apply radical, custom crops to copies of the originals to play up the relative horizontal (landscape) or vertical (portrait) orientations in those images. In each case of the three radical crops from the Feb. 25 shoot, in which my focus was exclusively on capturing scenes for later high-dynamic range (HDR) treatment, the orientation was landscape.

I posted one of those images (that of the elongated Manual High School football field) in my post of Feb. 27. The two others are in today's post, along with a few other frames, leftovers as it were, or the more dignified term "leftouts," from the Feb. 25 shoot that didn't make the cut for the Feb. 27 post. One of them, showing the west facade of the Garfield Park Arts Center, leads off this post (top); the other is a view of the Burrello Family Center (first image below). While composing this post, I added a fourth radical crop, which I'll identify among the pictures below.

The reason for the radical crops is pretty simple: To get all the desired subject matter in the scene. To accomplish this, I had to position myself quite far away, even with a wide-angle lens. That left me vast foregrounds that, to me, constituted a lot of waste. In the case of the arts center, I had little choice: The building is long, and if you want to capture it head-on, you're stuck with foreground. I could (and have) captured it from the sides and other angles (include those incorporating the building's front, i.e., the east facade), and that's certainly the ideal way to do it. I was bent on grabbing a full flank shot. In the case of the Burrello Center, I could have gotten much closer and eliminated the waste. But I wanted to include as much of the front side of the building section on the right along with some parking lot and, as secondary elements, the lamppost on the left and, in the background, the descending treeline leading toward the structure. Basically, I wanted it all. 

I tend to avoid custom crops; I usually try to capture any exaggerated characteristics of a scene at the point of composition, which in the case of my two DSLR cameras, constitutes an aspect ratio of 3:2 (landscape) or 2:3 (portrait); with my PowerShot G12, the aspect ratio is 16:9/9:16. Those usually are easier to deal with if or when I might ever need to order prints. But ... I've been rethinking that philosophy lately. If you can't find a retail printer who'll make a custom print for you, you can always get prints made in the maximum dimension of the side you want to emphasize, and then physically cut the other dimension yourself to include or exclude exactly what you want. There are retailers out there who will customize a frame for your print thereafter. They might cost a bit more, but if you're really sold on the "look," it might be worth it to you.

Above and below: Here are examples of going for a full shot of the arts center, but from one of the sides. The above scene is uncropped, and even with a wide-angle lens, I was getting a bit more foreground than I wanted. Luckily, the park's in-ground grill gave me some subject element in that area of composition to make me decide to take the shot anyway. I could have gotten closer and eliminated some of that foreground, but I have that shot already (from another day); I was looking for something I hadn't gotten yet. But while composing this post, I decided to go back and apply a radical crop to the image above to eliminate the grill and leave in just the arts center. I ended up preferring this to the one above.

Above and below: Monochrome and color versions of a wide-angle shot of the park's pagoda. A color-only version of a wide-angle view from the opposite side (right) ran in the Feb. 27 post. This view includes the pagoda's handicap-accessible ramp on the left.

Above: First of the leftovers, a playground shot.

Above and next two below: Two more looks at the rail lines that form the western perimeter of the park. The third was intended mostly as a mood piece, zeroing in on the footprints.

Above: A view from the Pleasant Run railroad trestle, looking east. A similar image in the Feb. 27 post is a tighter shot. This one opens to include Pleasant Run Parkway in the background.
Above: The Feb. 27 post included a portrait orientation of the conifers just east of the railroad tracks, which you can make out in the background of this image on the right. Here's a landscape orientation.

Above: In the Feb. 27 post, I lamented about how more of my rail crossing signal shots didn't come out as well as I had hoped. I think a chief reason was the cloud formation, which I think distracts focus from the subject. Here's one of those. The one I liked and included in the previous post was taken from the opposite side -- the back -- not the front as you see here.

Above: I'm looking for more lines and patterns in my shots lately. That was on the mind when I went for this one.
Above and below: Conifers in yard landscapes that caught my eye on my walk home from the shoot.

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