What’s in a crop?

Whenever I take wildlife photographs I always have to develop them digitally on the same day. If that means a late night, then it means a late night. My fear is that if I don’t edit them there and then, I never will. I spend very little time editing each photograph and a very long time editing all of my photographs. My camera’s memory card holds 1,200 files at the highest resolution in RAW format, which captures all of the information from the digital image sensor. It’s a long way from the 24 exposure films I used to buy and develop in chemicals on a piece of chipboard on my bed, with bin liners taped across the windows.

I usually crop each image instinctively to give the balance I want. I use a 3 by 2 ratio and make sure there is interesting ‘negative space’ surrounding the subject. In this case it’s a Moorhen at Crime Lake. I like the strong upright regimented pattern of the prehistoric horsetails. I like the strong diagonals of the body, arrow-like, pointing to the right. I like the isolated colour of the beak against the uniform green of the vegetation. I like the balance of the bird looking into the empty space to the left. It’s a pleasing image. It also tells a story of the bird skulking in the undergrowth and there’s humour in the idea that it thinks that it’s hidden, when it clearly isn’t.

Moorhen - Crime Lake - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Once I’ve finished adjusting the detail in the shadows and highlights I save it as an image which is 2,048 pixels wide with a small (c) symbol. That’s so that when someone steals my images they know they’re doing something wrong when they cut my copyright notice off. That size is perfect for uploading to my blog and to my Facebook page.

Then I encounter a problem. I post images to my Twitter profile and they display cropped. How could they? That utterly destroys all my hard work. Fancy spending all that time agonising over negative space, balance, and proportion only to have some useless coding ruin how my images are displayed. I decide to re-edit some of my photographs in a 2 by 1 ratio. Here’s what it looks like:

Moorhen - Crime Lake - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I’m surprised to find that I like it more.

Which one do you prefer?

Now I have to find a composition that works in 1 by 1 format so I can post it to my Instagram. One photograph; many crops.

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