Posted by: Stu Bert | August 16, 2009

It’s all in the crop…


No, no, not one of those crops, this is a family-friendly site after all 🙂 … a creative crop…

I was down in Cornwall in April.. catching up on holiday again and although I was not looking for a theme it seemed that “the crop” was going to predominate a lot of the shots I took…

Now as “photographers” we crop for a number of reasons

  • We couldn’t get the angle we wanted to, for love nor money. Whether it’s an inconsiderate spawl of undergrowth, or maybe just tumbling down the side of a hillside into the sea normally followed by cameras and tripods.
  • There’s distraction in the frame – normally this is some twig, branch, clump of grass – something for the likes of you was not apparent when you lined the shot up – it just made an appearance of it’s own accord as soon the shutter clicked up. No really, it has been scientifically proven along with Irons switching themselves on after you leave for work, Front door keys playing hide n seek, and of course crisp £20 notes surrupiciously wandering out from your wallet. All proven..
  • No matter what lens you use (and when it comes to the sea you can’t exactly hit the pause button when something interesting comes along just to swap lenses) there’s always going to be shots where you don’t get the framing you wanted to. Translated – far too much empty space to let your eyes wander away.

So we crop.

Much like we might change punctuation or grammar to grab you attention.

Exhibit A – West Cornwall. Now we’d already turned the camera to portrait, bunged on a 1.4x converter and we still could not get the shot we wanted without wading into the sea. And would you know it I’d left the wetsuit back at the car 😉

It was cold, it was blustering and although I and the cameras were “weathersealed”, neither of us were in the mood to test our strength against the tide.

So we crop and get the shot we would have done perhaps had we been prepared to experience mild hyperthermia…

Exhibit B

Gone is the sea at the bottom of the frame, and the top of the cliff.

The shot I wanted to show, with the waves bouncing back off the cliffs is born

Exhibit C – I wont bother with the full shot – there’s just a swathe of sea around these rocks which do nothing to add interest.

It’s a long exposure this time as the tide was quite leisurely and I wanted to maximise the water running through the crevices.

In fact if you look at the next shot – the panoramic – it was taken at the same location.

Those small clumps of rocks in the foreground are what I selected for the main subject on Exhibit C. You see, sometimes we look for scale and grandeur in a scene and sometimes we home in on the detail. It’s the same location, just a couple of hours later which requires a different approach inline with the conditions.

The final two shots, are typical of Cornwall and the UK in April. In fact to be fair, it was not quite as cold as the shots portray. In the first shot, sunset was about an hour earlier and the light was fading fast. But as in the previous two shots, you adapt to the changing conditions and take a completely different set to those you had under the dying embers of the day. The powder blue colours just add to the desolate feelings – save for the series of footprints on the right hand side.

The last shot is similarly after “sunset”. Except there was no sunset. Fortunately there was enough clouds and enough movement in the sea to add interest to the shot. This is Bude, which can have some wonderfully interesting high tides if the weather permit. This particular evening was quite mild. Mild enough that yours’ truly decides that the waves may just be breaching the path to the lookout (on the right in the picture) but that they should not be enough to take me and several thousand pounds of kit into bude bay. Of course I still played frogger a couple of times, and made damned sure when a particularly large wave surged in that I got a good secure footing in the rocks – nothing like a broken pair of legs to go with your dip in the bay 😦

Oh and finally, again just to indicate that insanity is of course a relative thing – this is a shot I’d taken an hour earlier. As I mentioned, it was mild that evening – so mild that the surfers and kayakers spent most of the time just bobbing up and down in the swell. Three of the more enterprising? lads decided that there was little excitement in the water, and more fun could be had on the walkway the other side of the bay. None of us believe they were stranded – they just wanted to prove that they could withstand the swell as it crashed against the rocks….

P.S. At this rate, I should get through Northumberland by October (that was April/May), and Alberta (Banff & Jasper) by Christmas. But don’t hold your breathe 🙂

P.P.S. If I’ve embedded the pics correctly, you can double-click to see a larger version. Or just wander over to Flickr via the links on the right.

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