How To Give Your Images An Infinite Feel
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Cropping To Give An Infinite Feel - How to crop a picture in a way that makes part of the photo look as if it could go on forever.
Despite the pretentious-sounding title, this isn't nearly as high-brow as it sounds. It is, in effect, a way of cropping a picture in a way that makes part of the photo look as if it could go on forever. It gives a great feeling of space and can make your pictures more exciting and dynamic.
Gear:You can use a compact or SLR, such as Nikon's D600 or D800, for this technique and it doesn't have to be anything special. I've used wide angle and telephoto lenses to achieve the effect, although it's usually easier to isolate subjects with a longer lens, which can also have the benefit of flattening perspective, adding to the effect. It's much more important to simply use your eyes.
Technique:It's all about excluding what you don't need – whether it's the top of a mountain, to give an accentuated feeling of height, or the edge of a field, lake, etc, to give an impression of space. My photos of a jetty at Ullswater show the effect.
The first picture – the jetty, reflections and the fell across the lake – make a good landscape picture, but the second picture, going in closer for a tighter crop (which did involve walking forwards as well as simply zooming), excludes both the sky and the reflection of the sky, produces a simpler picture, with a vastly improved feeling of infinite space.
By cropping still tighter however, the third picture removes even the far shore, resulting in a jetty extending into infinite reflections, producing the most abstract yet powerful image of the three.
Both field shots, the vineyard with the hut, and the field of burnt stubble, were pretty small fields, but by ensuring that the perimeter of the fields extended outside the edge of the frame, it creates the impression of great size.
In the case of the fishing boat, the feeling of scale and size of the ocean was shown by keeping the boat small in the frame and by filling over 90% of the picture with sea.
We know seas go on for miles, but the feeling of massive scale here is shown by size comparisons.
It's not just in the landscape where the infinite can be emphasised.
I made good use of the technique on a recent trip to Paris – trying to achieve the feeling of infinity on buildings as well.
I found the modern architecture round la Defense, particularly the Grande Arch – wonderful subjects.
The gardens of the louvre offered a maze of hedges, where tight cropping isolated people against a mass of infinite hedge. But to show that long lenses aren't always the best, the shot up a spiral staircase was taken on a fisheye lens, but still tight cropping constrained the borders, while the perspective gave the feeling of a never-ending spiral.
So get out and really use your eyes to exclude what you don't need to give a real feeling of "to infinity and beyond".
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