Monday, November 23, 2009

Cropped land-, sea- water- and townscapes

A good question, from Plutarch: 'Is there a shibboleth among photographers which prefers them to print the picture they compose in the view finder?'

I do believe there is, at least among photographers of the old/film school. One photographer whose book I read, while he had accepted that digital had become the normal way to take photos, justified this by saying that as a photographer one should want to spend as much time 'out there' (an expression or idea of which I am always leery) taking photos rather than in front of a computer screen editing them.  I think that's probably a bit pretentious.  No one thought time spent carefully developing pictures just right in darkroom and studio made one less of an action man.  I think doing anything well means being prepared to take some pains over the boring bits of it.
I suppose that when film cost money, cropping was wasteful, so better to apply the techniques of composition through the viewfinder.  I think there's a bit of pride in being able to compose a good shot sur place, I think I am quite pleased when cropping proves to be unnecessary, but I don't think it's very important.  There are other aspects of setting up a shot that can't be edited in or out afterwards, however clever you are with photoshop, but if a bit of tidying up round the edges helps, why not?
There are plenty of arguments to be had about the nature of what is and isn't authentically creative; whether old-fashioned, hands-on skills were/are superior to modern digitally engendered ones.  I like old-fashioned making in lots of areas, and wouldn't want to give it up, I'm not sure that many people would. Digital photography does feel a bit like cheating sometimes, but it's enjoyable cheating.

I too usually trim most of the photos I post here a little, most are improved by a slight shift of composition, or getting rid of some extraneous distracting element at the edges.  Many of those I'm putting in this series, however, are what might be called extreme crops, really just very small fragments of much larger, less than wonderful pictures.  I'm finding it an interesting exercise in itself.  I don't use an SLR, so powerful macro shots are not possible, but while these don't really replicate the effect of a good macro lense, it requires a similar way of seeing, and the blessing of loads of megapixels is you can ditch a lot of them without getting pixellation appearing.   Sometimes they lose definition, and detail, as with some of these sections of landscape, which makes them look a bit unreal and dreamy, or the removal of much of the context makes them into abstracts.






























Anyway, it's good clean fun and a way of doing some sorting out, and the way it's going it will certainly take me to the end of November...

11 comments:

PurestGreen said...

While I try as much as possible to "fill the frame" while I am shooting, I usually end up cropping a bit.

These are lovely photos - I especially like the grasses and the bright flowers further down.

Kurt said...

Some really stunning shots here!

marja-leena said...

Fabulous! Cropping is quite acceptable in my books! As is any photoshopping or adjusting as needed. I usually find I have to adjust the levels a bit or the images would appear too washed out on some monitors. Isn't that what makes digital so fabulous? So much easier than fumbling with all those nasty chemicals in a darkroom, ugh, I don't miss that at all.

Zhoen said...

Artists often try to separate themselves from the herd in whatever way they can. As a non-artist, I'm just grateful for digital tech for photos, since now I can take as many as I want and see what happens.

Or, perhaps real artists should all go back to just incising rock.

christopher said...

I often find it tedious to listen to the arguments that the old ways are the best ways. I too have my areas where I resist the modern, but at least I understand that I am revealing my comfort level far more than some loss of quality. I am an acoustical guitarist primarily, but electric guitar is a different instrument, not a bastardized and ruined acoustical guitar. The same with the computerized keyboard, distinct from the grand piano. And so on.

The computerized media, as you mentioned, does not erase the fundamentals of composition. Indeed. It adds a whole new realm of expertise. This is also true in my job, where I not only have to be good at engineering design, but I also have to master so many phases of computer operation and the really complicated functions of the design program I use too. Now I have a double job. We all do. The old ways are the best is often a lazy man's complaint.

Granny J said...

I love all those close crops; learned about cropping way into a picture from the art department people at the magazine where I worked lo those many years ago. It forces people into the picture.

Crafty Green Poet said...

These are lovely photos....

I think cropping is fine, I'm starting to experiment with crops as well and sometimes can produce a totally different photo which focuses the attention differently, while the original shot is also worth preserving.

Why hang onto old ways just because they're the old ways?

Barrett Bonden said...

These days if you still use a film camera the development services often crop the prints without your instruction, and not necessarily in the way you might have wanted.

Where's the bridge? The mouth of the Seine?

Reluctant Blogger said...

It's odd because I just can't bring myself to crop photos unless there is something really offensive on the edge (and even then I have to take a deep breath before I do it and always save the original too). Daft isn't it? I have no particular interest in photography so I suppose it isn't about being artistic for me, more about preserving a moment and somehow it doesn't seem right to change the moment. I think that is why I can't do it.

But I love these photos you have put in this post. So perhaps I should be brave and try and do it occasionally.

I think people's power to change photographs scares me a little - that they can change what people see without changing the reality.

Oh I am not explaining myself very well.

Julia said...

I love this line of shots. Really nice and I especially like the textures.

My first editor endlessly told us that the best photographers crop as they shoot and move around to get the picture they want. Now I do believe in moving my feet, but I also think that cropping on screen is quite valuable: not only can we often create more powerful images but it's super revision work for the next time we're out with the camera.

Sheila said...

I love the black and white tree trunks....and the colorful flowers (is that lavender in the back?)....and others....just beautiful, beautiful.

And I appreciated your idea of comparing the computer screen to the darkroom. I've tended to resist learning how to do anything to photos digitally, though I enjoyed the darkroom. Now that I think of it, though, how wonderful not to have that awful smell to deal with!

You may have pushed me a bit in a new direction...