Cropping with Light

The Post Processing post received some interest. One question was – “Ed, don’t you ever do wild things in post processing?”. My answer is yes but usually for a reason – not just because it’s possible. The following example is me going wild – with a specific goal in mind.

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Disclaimer – The photo in this example is NOT my image. It belongs to jude McConkey.  jude posted this on a blog (in 2007) and at that time I thought it would make a good tutorial example for what I call “cropping with light”. Cropping with light attempts to focus the viewer’s attention on the main subject of an image without physically cropping the image and removing the subject’s supporting context. This tutorial was done in 2007 with jude’s consent.

The post processing was done using Nikon’s Capture NX (which isn’t solely for Nikon images; jude’s image was from a Canon). For this image I started with a jpeg from jude’s Canon. I wanted to add special effects and for that I used Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3 (which comes as a plug-in for both Capture and Photoshop + others).

In the following slide show watch the progression of the image as it is step-by-step “cropped with light” to downplay distractions to the subject – a young girl. This represents an extreme for me personally when in comes to image alterations – but I liked the result. The final image is a side-by-side of jude’s original image and my final light-cropping. I think you’ll agree that the goal of focusing the viewer’s attention on the subject was accomplished.

To best see the often subtle changes from step to step (giant change overall) click the center of the slide show below to open a new screen. At the new screen choose the Full Screen option and then choose Gallery View. Once in gallery view, click on the individual gallery images so that you can see what’s been done by going back and forth between consecutive steps.

There were lots of different possible interpretations of this image; this is just one of many. I show the 7th of 8 images as the “final” but #6 would work as well if not better – I just decided to go “over the top” for drama.