CAN WE TALK?? Photography Tip #21
CHECK THE UPDATE BELOW!
Whenever Joan Rivers wanted to get serious and have a real discussion, she would look you straight in the eye and say “Can we talk?”. That’s somewhat how I feel about this first shot. I captured this particular sunset about 6 weeks ago and I immediately fell in love with the colors! But I had issues with the composition. (That’s why I waited so long to publish it. Don’t get me wrong. All sunsets are magnificent, but some better than others.) Specifically, the sun is constantly changing its position in the sky and this particular time of the year it moves so far north it creates a dilemma with the photographic composition.
Someone once said (and I really wish I could remember who), “A sunset without a subject is ordinary at best.” Essentially, your sunset should be the canvas you use to create the extraordinary image that causes everyone to step back and go, “WOW!” They went on to explain that while a sunset is your focal point, it still needs something of interest to complete the “WOW!” factor you’re looking to create.
Now when it comes to Huntington Beach, there is but one image that is iconic and synonymous with the city – that being the Ruby’s Diner at the end of the pier. In fact, you’ll notice it in nearly every sunset print you see. But in the first image as you can see, the sun is setting so far to the north that Ruby’s is clearly a distant shadow. So if the setting sun is the focal point, obviously the Ruby’s Diner at the end of the pier is not prominent enough to become the object of interest. Also because of its distance from the setting sun, including Ruby’s in the frame caused me to utilize a wider angle that I would normally use in order to include the end of the pier. Actually, because of its proximity to the sun, it would seem the lifeguard tower would by default be the object of interest.
Are you with me, so far?
So, what should I do? Should I omit the Ruby’s? Should I exclude the end of the pier? Many of you left favorable comments about this image, and I have to admit that I like it too. But, can it be better? Maybe…maybe not.
Let’s talk about it.
In the second sunset, notice the position of the sun. This image was captured on December 22, 2010. This is a similar perspective as the first sunset, but obviously a much tighter crop. Can you see how the sun has changed its position over the past four months? While the colors are more optimal in the first sunset, I believe the second creates more interest. The fact that you have the sun actually setting behind Catalina Island is somewhat unusual. The placement of Ruby’s Diner creates an iconic silhouette adjacent to the setting sun. But the real interest to me is the two people watching the sun slip into the horizon. It makes me wonder, “What’s their story?”.
Since I wasn’t completely satisfied with the first sunset, I decided to change the perspective with a portrait crop to tighten the interest within the image. I noticed the sunlight coming through the lifeguard tower windows created an interest quality all its own and decided to crop into the frame to make that a bit more evident.
Is it better? Or, is this particular sunset a lost cause?
I did learn one thing from this experience. I never give up on an image. There is something that keeps drawing me back.
Do you prefer the first image? Or, do you prefer the last image with the portrait crop?? Maybe you happen to like the first image better. That’s fantastic! I love to hear differing perspectives. Quite often one of you will mention something I have failed to see or think about. I hope that happens here. If you happen to prefer the last image, that’s fine too! But maybe you have different reasons behind your thoughts. I would love to hear those, as well. Let’s fill the page with this discussion.
While the perfect crop is important, what are the factors that determine that perfect crop?
So, lean in a little closer. Can we talk??
UPDATE!! UPDATE!! UPDATE!!
Bob Zeller sent me this crop. He preferred the closer crop, but in the original landscape format. What do you think?
Or, what about a panorama crop?
What do you think of this one? I actually found where I had already cropped it in this format. As you can readily see, cropping your image is very important but totally up to the individual. Choose your favorite and let us know which one it is.