Cropping photographs for a better image: candid shots from Bermondsey Carnival, Southwark 2013

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  • Bermondsey Carnival 2013, Southwark Park SE16 part 2

    My impulse to photograph has always been to capture people but this day was a useful learning curve about composition and the choice of colour versus black & white.

    Uploading photos instantly – why I don’t do this

    But I’ll start by asking, “what is so great about being instant?”  Well certainly not coffee and its not good for photography either.  And yet this is what social media is urging us to do; share your photos instantly.  But why if they’re not ready to be shown.  My images are never finished until I’ve tinkered with them, often finding new images beyond that initial impulse which propelled my camera to my eye.

    For now, the only camera I own is a 9 year old digital compact. I prefer the optical view finder over the LCD screen and rarely use the zoom.  I see better with the view finder but the framing is usually off because I’m not looking through the lens.  But even with an SLR I was advised over 30 years ago that I shoot too loosely.  I didn’t really understand that until working on the photographs for this post.

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    How my creative journey began

    This shot was an accident.  Just prior to it being taken I was standing right by the three boys who were squatting on an imaginary athletics track at the start of a race.  They were whippet fast off those blocks and this was the result.  You can just see the hand of the third boy on the left of frame.

    Rather than be disappointed by the result, I love the energy it exudes, their bodies as sleek as any greyhound’s.  And that cheeky smile disappearing out of sight is captivating.

    Colour versus Black and White photography

    The strong shadows made me wonder what it would look like in black and white and you can see that version in the gallery below.  And then I experimented with other shots like this one.

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    I love both versions of this image.  I was far too loose in the original and I instinctively cut in close to the father and daughter.  But that didn’t work until I spotted the shadows in the bottom right corner which mirror the action.

    Cropping photographs to find the story

    Cropping is also about finding the story in the image.  When I took the original of this next shot my main interest was the mass of blue space hoppers.  But downloaded the image was only okay.  The woman looking bored wasn’t enough and the back of her friend in the chair was dead space.  And then I spotted him, the Rasta guy in the orange florrie jacket.  His smile brings the space hoppers to life, like living emoticons, laughing.

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    And this photo below works in two ways with different crops.  The original impulse was the man’s tattoos and to capture this fairly animated group but they saw me and turned their backs.

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    In the first crop I’ve focused on the child’s self absorption away from the adult world and how the woman’s flowery dress compliments the tattoos.    But I still wasn’t satisfied so I cropped it even tighter losing the child and discovered this.

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    The half smile peeping out between the bodies creates an air of mystery about the joke being shared by the group.  And so I’ve ended up with two photos from one shot.

    In the gallery this week which contains 15 new images, plus some b&w duplicates, I’ve relied on cropping to find my final shot.   And I think they’re much stronger for that.  And they prove that you don’t have to rely on shallow focus to create good images which is one of my pet peevs in modern photography.  I hope you enjoy them.  And they always look better viewed in gallery mode after you click on a an image to switch.

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  • One thought on “Cropping photographs for a better image: candid shots from Bermondsey Carnival, Southwark 2013

    1. Pingback: RideLondon 2013: conjuring images as if by magic | "Notice what you notice..."

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