I spent last Saturday afternoon on the beach down at Fort Macon in eastern North Carolina hoping for some nice HDR images. The day was beautiful, even though the forecast predicted heavy storms. They never materialized though which often happens along the coast. I’ve got a few photos to share later but I picked this shot for a HTDS (How To Do Stuff) exercise in cropping for different effects.
The sky was bright and hazy with no clouds to the south and a few puffy wisps to the north. This southerly facing image worked better as a high key monochrome with just a touch of sepia to add warmth.
The image above is full frame right out of the camera and the stark, simple elements work well with the open sky. So my first break from that original image was to try a couple of square crops.
Back (in the day) when I was using medium format, 2 1/4 film cameras, I got used to working with that format and at times found it a real challenge. Since we normally see in a horizontal mode, it’s sometimes more difficult to visualize a square result.
The image on the left was my first crop and is balanced but just a little too condensed. . .not enough space. So, I did a re-crop of the original to allow more space on the edges and then modified the proportion for a more vertical perspective. I did this by squeezing a vertical eight inch by horizontal nine inch image size into an eight by eight. It’s a very slight change but gives more openness to the scene.
This is an example of a traditional size crop that fits the 4×5, 8×10 or 16×20 formats. This one is a little tight but gives a nice fit for the standard sized prints. (if anyone is still doing those formats)
The image below is cropped from the above 8×10 format to give a 3 to 2 ratio format like the example at the top of this post.
This one gives up some sky but does a good job of focusing on the main elements.
My last example is more of a wide landscape, panoramic view that retains the horizontal expanse of the original but is generously cropped on top and bottom.
In each of these variations, I’ve kept a strong leading line from the lower left. No matter which format is used, the dominant element is the fisherman and the line(s) promote a natural visual flow.
Processing: Three exposures from -1 to +1 were loaded into Nik HDR Efex Pro where I chose one of the black and white presets. It gave me a “ready made” high key image. I added a little depth back using tonal adjustments and added some sharpness for even more contrast. I wanted this to look like an old Tri-X, high contrast, push processed print. I moved the image back into Adobe Photoshop CS6 and added a very slight sepia tone overlay.
Equipment used: Nikon D700 with Nikkor 70-210mm f/4.0-5.6 lens, f/32, ISO 800.