What Makes A Photo Work?

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Has This Been Cropped Too Much?

The original image as presented for feedback.


Our Anonymous Photographer has been to Iceland and visited Skoafoss. Impressively, the image has been cropped and turned into black and white. The small figure gives a great sense of size, scale and power. It is a popular subject, but one that has been well handled. So, what would I do differently?



This is the colour image after cropping. It is perhaps a little tight for my liking in that the right hand cliffs and rocks are quite dominant. Perhaps leaving a little more space on the left would balance them better - but to start with, let's look at the black and white conversion. In the original up top, there is a good range of tones throughout the image, but we want people to notice that waterfall. We want the waterfall to stand out and knock us in the eyes!



My first edit was to use an adjustment brush or layer and lighten up the waterfall itself. However, there is only so far you can go when lightening water before it ends up being paper white and detailless. So, I lightened it, and added a little contrast, but only as far as I could.



If I can't lighten the waterfall anymore, how about darkening down the surroundings. Another adjustment was added to dim the rocks, especially the highlights in the rocks.


Finally, I darkened the sky and the foreground a little more. I think now the eye definitely sees the small figure standing in the face of adversity - or at least a good soaking!


So, here's the full frame image which I understand was cropped. Personally, I think the cropping was a little too much, but then again, I do like space in my compositions. Have a look at my suggested crop and B&W conversion below...



To start with, I have left the sky in frame, but in doing so, I am telling the viewer that the waterfall has a finite size. Look what happens if I crop the sky out as well:



Without the sky, the viewer may imagine that waterfall being impossibly high, perhaps creating even more impact. Neither of my suggestions are necessarily better than the vertical crop, just different interpretations. But kudos to the photographer for cropping because that shows a thinking image maker.


And if you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months, I have trips going to Greenland and Iceland next year. Full details on the Better Photography website!

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