This not that: frame it

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by unrealnature, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. If I give you a bunch of files to play with, will you crop them to your taste (and edit, too, if you wish) and repost to this thread? Please?
    I'd like to see how many different ways and for how many different reasons people will treat the same files. What they leave in; what they leave out and where they position stuff in the rectangle, due to the choice of framing.
    The four files linked below have been taken down to 50% size (now 2592 x 1728) and saved at Medium jpg quality, so they're not in great shape; but they should be good enough to allow cropping without going too small. They have not been sharpened. They are not great pictures. They are happy snaps. You have my permission to do whatever you want with these pictures. Anything at all is fine with me. Just show us what you can do. I would ask that when you repost, you give at least a sentence or two about why you did what you did. Here are links to the large-ish files:
    Pine Needles
  2. A few minutes before leaving for town. Interesting overall images, Julie, with much potential for evidently quite subjective cropping and identifying strong subject matter. Here are my 5 versions and I will be interested later to see others.
  3. Second crop
  4. Third crop (pic should read Cropped leaves ap2)
  5. Fourth crop
  6. Firth and last crop.
    Overall, as you no doubt know, the originals contain abundant subject matter and invite perception of what is the principal or more arresting subject matter. The crops can gain by being even more focussed than some of these. Thanks for posting the exercise as it is key to seeing in visual perception of scenes.
  7. Arthur, thanks very much for being willing to go first. These are just the kind of creative crops I enjoy thinking about.
  8. Wow thats are very nice. ameazing
  9. Really good exercise, Julie, and those are fun images to play with--lots of opportunities there. I tried 2 to 5 crops of each, and these are the ones that intrigued me the most. As for why I did what I did: I first looked at the images as abstracts, to hone in on the parts of each image that had shapes I enjoyed. I then pondered what it was about those particular shapes that I found compelling, and then started working with crops and rotations to try to play up the forms that had attracted me. After that, it was a matter of playing with exposures, curves, and occasionally white balance to further bring out those shapes. At each step, the objective was to isolate the elements that I was intrigued by. On "Pine needles," I probably would have gone with the section Arthur chose if he hadn't gotten there first; and I had a hard time choosing between 4 options with "Wood." Thanks for the challenge!
  10. Fun exercise Julie!
  11. second
  12. third
  13. fourth
  14. These are just so fascinating to me. I love them for what's been found in the pictures via crop and edit, but also for what is shown about the way you are seeing the pictures.
    A small feature (just to pick out something to discuss) that I'm wondering about. When editing, was anybody attracted to the barely visible bit of dull green in the upper left corner of the Bugs file? To my eye, it really makes the other two colors (red and caramel) come alive. Absent that green, color stops being a composing factor in the picture. But how or whether to include it?
    I have another frame of that place that shows more of the green so you may be able to see what I'm talking about. But it cut out one of the little water doodles at the bottom that I thought people would like to play with, so I chose the frame posted instead. What do you think about that green? What might it do for the picture ... or not? Here's the other frame. I've cropped off some of the right side (which was "empty"), but otherwise, it's as shot:
  15. In the first bug image the green was barely noticeable. In your second example I can see what you are talking about with the three colors. For me, in the first image of bugs I really saw the bug as the main area of interest, hence, my treatment of it as such. In your second example I don't really know what I would do with it regarding the colors; that large bug is still the "main character" for my eye.
  16. I'm curious, and would like to ask those who posted (and those who thought about posting ...) a question. There's an old chestnut that composing in photography, making a photograph, is about subtraction; where composing in other arts is about addition. For example, here's William Eggleston in an interview:
    [curator] Philip Prodger: But music and photography are different. In music, you start with a note, you add another note, and another and another, and you build something. It's additive. Whereas photography is subtractive — you start with the world and then you narrow it down to what you want to show.
    William Eggleston: That's an excellent way to put it.​
    Did any of you feel, as you cropped and/or edited the posted pictures, as if you were 'subtracting'? Or when shooting, how often do you think that you're 'subtracting'?
    I never feel that. Rather it seems like everything in front of me opens up, dilates and gives meaning after meaning (or, if you don't like the verbality of 'meaning' try 'form after form'). The frame doesn't feel like a subtractor to me; it feels like ... what? ... the edge of attention? the limits of mental focus? Of course, sometimes it's used compositionally to irritate or mystify, but even then, the non-picture created by that arbitrary cut doesn't feel like subtraction to me. It feels like intention, which I think is very different.
    Do you, readers, ever feel any sense of subtracting? As I said, for me, it's kind of the opposite; a dilation, a blooming; I rarely notice what ... I don't notice (don't see?).
  17. I agree with you, Julie. Speaking as a sometimes composer and watercolorist, there really isn't a fundamental difference in process. With each medium, there's a near-infinite world to chose from. In each case, one starts with an idea, then selects the elements that seem best suited to realizing that idea in a form that others can experience. Sometimes those elements are notes, sometimes lighting, and sometimes brush strokes--and obviously, each medium relies heavily on composition to ensure that the elements are interpretable. As for cropping as "subtracting"--not any more so than looking through a microscope or telephoto lens (or selecting a sequence of notes and silences to form a melody) is "subtracting." In each case, the action is adding to the depth of understanding or experience by showing us things that we wouldn't have otherwise had access to.
  18. I crop and edit a lot, but I don't want my images to appear highly altered. I agree with Leslie, its about being able to direct the viewer's eye to grasp the idea of the image without being "distracted" by unnecessary elements. You can set it up to have intentional "distractions" to create some dissonance, I suppose. I do like what I call "visual tension" as opposed to always a perfect balance, which is popular in composition. I've noticed that elements near the corners and borders of an image are particularly powerful in being able to "pull" the viewer's eye away from central themes. Sometimes a slight intentional vignetting of a landscape gently "pushes" the viewer's eye inward. I remember reading Ansel Adams on printing and he mentions doing that on purpose.
  19. Agreeing with Leslie, or I guess we're both agreeing with each other.
    The thing is, if you 'subtract' you should have less of something afterwards. Do you have a smaller picture? Or is there a hole in the picture?
    Steve, I hesitate to tell you this (okay, I love telling you this!): you've intuited much of what Rudolph Arnheim teaches with many words and many diagrams and examples in his (excellent) books on composition. You're so close, I'd almost accuse you of having read him.
    [Which is to say, I agree with all that you pointed out, and am a little deflated that you got it 'naturally.']
  20. I will often scan my scene, including background and, as I zero in on what I want, I will find myself sometimes very intentionally and sometimes much more spontaneously or intuitively "framing out" what doesn't work in the shot. Though the viewer will never literally see what I've left out, I often appreciate how much the left-out periphery has influenced me to see what's remaining in the frame in a very particular way. So for me, the act of subtraction is part of the act of how I see what I'm shooting. Though I often feel like I'm subtracting, what I'm subtracting is by no means meaningless and by no means not affecting what I'm leaving in.
  21. Replacement is not subtraction.
  22. Julie, I don't know what you're referring to as replacement in what I said.
    Of course, one can always claim, if one is interested in simply being disagreeable or haughty, that subtraction is really the addition of a negative number, as we all learned in grade school. In that case, one can argue nothing is really subtraction. And if one wants to argue that, who am I to dissuade them? I'll go on photographing the way I photograph and talking about it the way I want to.
  23. Rudolph is very influential as a teacher. Steve did a very fine job of recomposition in his images, better than I did (cropping is best not done and considered final too quickly, as there are many opportunities that are only a few mm away. Not to suggest that spontaneity does not provide its rewards as well).
    Julie, i never feel that I am really subtracting (in terms of the power of the image) when I crop, as the aim is usually to rid the frame of unnecessary elements and seek a better composition. Less is often more.
    Of course, if the way that the subject matter is portrayed and composed is already all that is needed, then any subtraction is usually a negative result.
    The frame for me is as useful as the period following a sentence in a text. In both cases, frame or period, the creator can still ask questions or suggest things related to what follows or what transpires or is derived from what is read or seen within the confines of the original statement. The frame is for me an important element of the composition.
  24. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    Whereas photography is subtractive — you start with the world and then you narrow it down to what you want to show
    well that's not really subtractive is it. all a photographer is doing is looking at a subset of the world or, as most people would say, a snapshot. nothing's been taken away.
  25. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    Replacement is not subtraction.
    replacement is subtraction followed by addition.
  26. Eggleston is, first off, responding to someone else's characterization in the quote. Neither is putting forth a philosophical
    treatise or exclaiming what a photo necessarily is. They are mulling over a way to think about photos. Simply dismissing it
    is doing no more than just that, simply dismissing it. It's closing your mind and turning a blind eye. Stop looking for truths and open up to ideas.
  27. Thanks for the complement, Julie. I assure you I have never read Rudolph Arnheim. I haven't read much in terms of art of photography in general. I do have an intense visual sense and I am acutely aware of where my eye is moving or "is moved" by elements in an image, and this guides my cropping and other post processing.
  28. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    They are mulling over a way to think about photos.
    eh? they are comparing processes.
    Stop looking for truths and open up to ideas
    everyone here has opened up to the idea of photography being a subtractive process (thanks Julie ) but some of us have rejected it.
  29. Rejecting it for yourself is different from rejecting it for others. You didn't compare your process to Eggleston's, which might have been interesting, you simply said Eggleston doesn't know what he's talking about (what the meaning of subtraction is). Actually talking about a process and describing it is the hard part. Getting out your dictionary and chiding someone else's use of a word is a whole lot easier and much stimulating.
    The only way I would have of knowing whether someone here is open to an idea is by how they talk about the idea. A simple statement, as if a statement of fact, telling me that Eggleston hasn't properly used the word subtraction doesn't show me, at least in this setting that you're open to the idea, just that you chose to write a word or two about it.
    And in what world is comparing processes not a mulling over of ideas. One plays word games when substance just doesn't come.
  30. norman, earlier you wrote, "replacement is subtraction followed by addition."
    It's a peculiarity of photography that, in photography, that's not true. When you think you are subtracting something, there's always already something else there. There is no "followed by," therefore neither subtraction nor addition (upping the ante ... ). There's only 'this not that.'
  31. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    @Fred, I never said anything about Eggleston and I have put foward a counter argument to what Prodger said. By taking
    a snapshot you are creating something. All creative processes are additive.
  32. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    @Julie, in my example I never actually said subtract 'something'. one can subtract the photographic equivalent of the
    empty set (ie subtract nothing). ditto with addition. and you can subtract from as well as add to a photograph.

    replacement i took to mean creating something from nothing or altering something or leaving something untouched )
  33. norman, if you let go of the literal, you get into pretty much everything, not just creativity. Bateson's "difference that makes a difference" is the lower surface/limit of awareness. I move my pencil from here to there; what it covered is now visible; what it now covers is now not visible.
  34. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    mmm, not sure about the letting go bit. would that be letting go forever?
  35. LOL
    You are a wise man, norman.
  36. By taking a snapshot you are creating something. All creative processes are additive.​
    Norman, these are not counterarguments or arguments of any sort. They are both CONCLUSIONS, asserted with no reasoning. That's dogma, not argument. So is "replacement is not subtraction." All these are are pithy little assertions that are meant to dismiss ideas, not consider them.

    Again, the only way I can tell that someone has actually considered an idea is if they show me they have. You have not.

    Notice how several others in response to the question posed, "how often do you think that you're 'subtracting'?" answered by doing just that. They were descriptive. That tells me that in a photographic context they personally considered the question, whether they accept or reject the premise. You and Julie are merely confidently asserting academic conclusions, made seemingly as objective facts would be, which is something very different.
  37. For instance, this . . .
    The thing is, if you 'subtract' you should have less of something afterwards. Do you have a smaller picture? Or is there a hole in the picture?​
    . . . I hope is a joke but, if so, it doesn't make a point. Did Julie really think the subtraction involved was referring to subtraction from the physical print? That would be a rather eccentric understanding of the back and forth between Prodger and Eggleston.*

    [Please, let's remember we are discussing neither Prodger's nor Eggleston's views. We are discussing simple singular statements of each ripped from a bigger dialogue to which I don't have access. So I'm discussing ideas abstracted from whatever they were actually talking about and whatever more they may have both said on the subject.]
  38. Arthur, I know you were considering the act of cropping which was the context in which the question was posed. Interestingly, because I was thinking about what Prodger might have actually been getting at in his discussion with Eggleston, I didn't interpret the question relative to cropping but instead to the act of photographing. Until I realized you were talking about the act of cropping only, I was surprised at your answer, because I've always found your work, in particular, rather subtractive. As you, yourself, say, "Less is more," something I don't find to be the case as opposed to "more is more", which I find as true, though I know I may be in the minority. Regardless of what we each think of "less is more," however I can see that idea at play in your work, so you seem to often stay true to it. To me, though, "less is more" suggests both subtraction and addition, but what we call it is relatively unimportant to me. What's more important is that I do see you as one who will often not include in the frame what you think is distracting. I think that gives your work a focused and usually organized feel, composition-wise. I think it's a bit more in your narratives, your use of reflection and shadow, etc. that enigma may arise as opposed to in your compositions themselves.
    I, on the other hand, have often be "accused" of leaving in what others consider distracting elements. That's provided me with some tensions over the years and some amount of second-guessing between what adds texture and interest and a bit more storytelling to an image and what is a distraction to the point where it gets in the way too much. Looking back at some of my work, I now see what the critics meant in some cases and yet, in others, I'm more sure I made the decision that most got the result I wanted. This is kind of a line I both fell into naturally and now like to play with precisely because it does cause some anxiety in me, which keeps me on my toes.
  39. This thread is about cropping. It would be lovely if it weren't turned into yet another thread of Fred talking about Fred.
  40. Then why did you, yourself, bring in a quote that wasn't about cropping? Julie, I think we should face the fact directly that I do like to talk personally because I'm here to share ideas about photography that will be practically helpful to my own photographing and I suspect that's why some others are here as well. If you want to maintain your own academic standards of objectivity, please do so. Just don't tell me how to approach these threads, even the ones you start. You're not the teacher, proctor, or queen.
  41. ... and away we go with the usual melodrama.
    Thank you Arthur, Leslie, Phil, Steve and norman. I really appreciate your contributions. It was fun while it lasted.
  42. Julie, I ask you, sincerely, to re-read my last comments to Arthur. They were a sincere effort to engage with how Arthur works and thinks about photography by both giving my impressions of Arthur's work relative to his own descriptions of how he works and bringing in some differences to the way I work and see my work. I can't imagine why anyone would be offended by that type of dialogue. It's often the way Arthur and I like to discuss photography and I thought he'd appreciate an actual response to his thoughts rather than a mere pat on the back for having given them. You know these threads go on tangents but it's not like it was an unproductive one or one that wasn't related to some extent to the theme of the thread. You can always opt to engage whatever thread participants you want and many threads have simultaneous conversations with different participants at the same time. There's nothing melodramatic about this. It's two photographers wanting to share something about their process and how they think. If that in some way offends you, I'm sorry, but it won't change the way I approach these threads.
  43. Fred, I appreciate your comments. Sometimes I try to whisper in the ear of the viewer with a title (e.g., the "Reflection" image) but then often rethink that it is better to let the viewer decide how the photo strikes him or her. I am sometimes a little disappointed that the "meaning" of the image does not always transfer easily to others but then that is the nature of subjective creation and appreciation. Yes, I was referring in my post to cropping, but I am conscious also of the fact that any discussion related to either cropping or to initial image creation per se is highly dependent upon what we define as "less" and what we define as "more". Quantitative and qualitative measures. I am glad you brought up that phrase and approach ("More is more") for those of us here to reflect upon.
    "More is more" can refer in one sense to extra subject matter, but I prefer instead to think of it as a more perceptive or profound interpretation of what is being seen by the photographer. "Less is more" inspires much of my work. What I mean by that is a concentration on the essential element or even elements of what I see. More is less in those cases, hopefully providing graphical and emotional attributes of an image that can be unencumbered by what may be unnecessary, misleasing and sometimes even counterproductive detail.
    I like some of the Oriental approaches to photography and art in general. Yûgen seeks to evoke a subject rather than describe it in detail. It often enters into the area of the mysterious. Shibui is an approach and antonym of “sweet”, the latter in one extreme I think of as “eye candy”. Shibui, that I find a bit closer to my approach than Yûgen (Yûgen I find harder to deploy in practice), is an aesthetic based on the portrayal of a simple, subtle and unobtrusive beauty. Minimalism can be associated with that I think, as "less is more" in those cases by virtue of depicting what is subtle, not shown, or not overly emphasized (as in “sweet”). Some of my photos, like the case for any of us, occur by stumbling across what my curiosity and eye finds and wants to perceive in a different way, or like others, I simply pose (set up) my images to deal with a certain thought (like the photo "Reflection") I might have. I don't see you cropping or reducing your subject matter in many of your images but rather see you seeking (as in your portraits or human activity shots) additional environmental elements that strengthen the image.
  44. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    By taking a snapshot you are creating something. All creative processes are additive.
    Norman, these are not counterarguments or arguments of any sort. They are both CONCLUSIONS, asserted with no reasoning

    Fred, Prodger said, Whereas photography is subtractive — you start with the world and then you narrow it down to what you want to show
    Implicit in my statement is the believe that one doesn't start with the world and narrow it down, one starts with nothing and then, hey presto, you have something. This is not subtractive.
    Furthermore, even if one reduces a photo by cropping (or a musical score by deleting notes) you are still adding to it because you are refining your vision.
  45. Sure, Norman all depends what you want to emphasize. One can talk about adding by refining vision or one can, as you
    also did, talk about subtracting by deleting notes. If you have x notes at one point and x minus y notes at another point
    (where y is not zero), then, by definition, you have subtracted something, notes. If you have a distracting tree trunk in your
    initial file or negative and you, to use your word of choice, delete it, you have one less tree trunk in your frame. Of course
    you may have added emotion, vision, artistry, by cropping out the tree trunk, but you've cropped out--subtracted--the tree
    trunk. I'm proposing what I don't think is a terribly radical idea. You can subtract notes and tree trunks and add value and
    artistry and emotion at the same time.
  46. I also take your point about starting with nothing and, presto, having something. But I can see it just as readily as
    starting with the world and narrowing it down. It's like the foreground/background study of the two black vases on the
    white background. Sometimes I see it as two vases, but with just a switch in perspective, I see the white face, then, presto, the two black vases. Similarly, I have no trouble seeing the process as both an addition and a subtraction. As a matter of fact, there's some wee
    bit of joy in switching back and forth between feeling as though I'm starting with everything and feeling as though I'm starting with nothing. Sometimes it even feels like everything and nothing are the same, but I'll keep that to myself. Oops!
  47. Arthur, one of many ways I was thinking of "more is more" is in a non-essential approach, where details act as unnecessary flourishes, adding more of a feeling and texture to the overall mood of the photo rather than contributing to the essence of the subject per se.

    I don't know offhand which photograph you're referring to with the title "Reflection." I think a title can be very important in some instances. Like all things, in other cases, they can be distracting. Interesting to think of titles as being additions to photos, in which case they often fail or mislead if they don't seem well integrated, much like many additions we see on houses that stick out like sore thumbs. When they seem organically part of the photo or even accompaniments rather than additionso, I find they are often more successful.

    But I'm hesitant about giving too much weight to the ideas of addition and subtraction, which mostly strike me as quantitative. I think a lot of art and photographic decisions are more qualitative. Is this going to express something of significance? Is this framing or crop taking my vision to a place where I'm challenged or satisfied? A writer might be concerned with addition and subtraction if he's getting paid by the word or if her publisher has limited her to a particular length. A photographer might be concerned with addition and subtraction if he has to make a photo small enough to fit on a particular wall that doesn't have a lot of space. Addition and subtraction seem a bit linear. One doesn't generally create art by equation. I tend to view the process of making art and photos more holistically than mathematically.
  48. Subtraction and additions are just words.
    Does it work yes or no?...what is it telling and communicating on any different level of sub/ or consciousness ? Does its need another language to hold its hand?
    My interest in Julies wood photograph were the waves, which I highlighted ,moving in a slow time not really noticeable other than patterns. But in fast time they were the waves of the sea in constant motion.
  49. Julie, thanks for posting this thread. I know I'm quite late to the party. Accordingly, here's a concise description of my steps to modify the image. First, I resized it. Then, I slightly darkened the shadows and midtones, and brightened the highlights to boost the pine needles role in the frame. I then added some warming to the image.

Share This Page