Rules, according to whom? (edited versions)

Rules are a good thing.  They are especially helpful for new photographers/artists.  They give us a good idea of what works, what does not and why.  Sometimes rules can be broken with good result.  One such rule is that of cutting your frame in half.  Normally this is not a good idea, as it tends to be static.  As a rule it would be better and much stronger divide to your frame in a ratio of one third to two thirds.  This would work top weighted or bottom weighted.  I think todays post,is one that works fine cut in half, however, there is still a small issue that cropping takes care of.   I’m including an alternate crop below in the interest of getting your feedback.  I’d prefer something more than I like the top one best.  Tell me why you are okay or why you prefer one over the other.  This kind of feedback is useful for all who read the blog. Oh, and what is the little nit that I was concerned about and thus cropped?

This image is another from the Cape Cod workshop where we had the dramatic morning with amazing gold light!  Very much of an essence image from this trip.

(EDIT) I’ve updated both images.  I posted images that were too light.  I’ve included Scotts crop in the bottom image eliminating the issue in the top right.  I think the images now feel more like I remember the light being.  It was not bright at all.  The light was soft and very warm.

This entry was posted in Cape Cod, Essence, Nik Software.


  1. Victoria November 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    The “little nit” that you were concerned about is the bit of water on the edge of the frame in the top image at about the middle… it draws the eye and takes away from the lovely lines in the foreground (to my eye). What I love about the second image (in addition to your having removed the “little nit” is the marvelous diagonal lines in the foreground that point one towards the center of the image. The water feature leads my eye into the center as well (from both sides of the frame) and the image is not EXACTLY 50-50 in sky and ground so really works! (Happy Thanksgiving again!)

  2. Lea Gallardo November 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    I like the bottom one better because there is far more interesting detail,color and texture in the bottom part of the photo. The sky is a fairly ordinary sky.

  3. Victoria November 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Oops… there was supposed to be a right parenthesis after the “little nit” in the second sentence.

  4. Dale Schwartz November 22, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    I went back and forth with each picture, and found myself more drawn to the bottom image. The foreground added more dynamics and drew my eye into the frame.

  5. Paul November 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    I like the bottom one best.

    You implied that “rules are meant to be broken,” and so I broke your rule about not just saying something like, “I like the top one best.”

    Actually, nothing more to say, the bottom one speak for itself… very interesting foreground, pretty boring sky… but good backdrop for foreground.

  6. Paul November 22, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Also, there is a white dot, quarter frame in from right and half way up frame, keeps drawing my attention… I would clone that out.

  7. Scott O November 22, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    The bottom crop got rid of the slightly distracting little piece of water on the left. But it also added a small chunk of sky in the upper right corner, which according to DS is distracting! I think I like the bottom one better, but would like to see it as a vertical taken with a tilt-shift lens to get more foreground in focus, as well as more sky and clouds! Overall, it is a really pleasant image, but fails the “would I hang it on my wall” test!!!

    • john8276 November 22, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

      Excellent feedback thus far. Spot on Victoria. The piece of water was bothering me. Good catch Scott on the top right. No need for a TS lens here. Trust me its all sharp bud. As I look at this post again, it does appear the images are both a bit too light… I’ll adjust and update the images now.

  8. Dano November 22, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    I don’t see the top image as cut in half at all. Maybe this is because the 1/2 and 1/2 you mention works! Or perhaps it appears as not cut it half due to the water element in the lower half, as the water breaks up the feeling of a split image.

    That said, I see the bottom image as the stronger of the two.

    • john8276 November 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

      Well put master. It is very close to being cut in half but for me the foreground interest and texture overcomes the rule. I agree the bottom image is stronger for the reasons stated. And, what are you doing posting on the blog!!!??? 🙂

    • Scott O November 23, 2012 at 3:52 am #

      It’s growing on me! Your editing update really helped. I love the foreground, the texture of the sand and the way it points into the center of the image is just terrific. The reason I suggested a t/s lens is that I would like to see the foreground extend to near the base of the tripod…but as is it is a delightful image.

  9. Luna Lovegood November 22, 2012 at 11:08 pm #


  10. Don Montabana November 23, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    While I like the bottom one I’d like to ask a question: I’ve been digging up literature on what the “rules” for composition. So far I have not uncovered the original work which was anecdotally done around the turn of the century. If anyone knows of this reference I would appreciate it — I’d like to do an article on its history. Thanks!

  11. Daniel Ruf November 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    Cropping out the “blue hole” in the top right corner was a good idea and I think the second image is the best in that you’ve removed some redundancy at the top while giving a longer lead in and more of that “yummy” foreground texture. Beautiful scene, by the way.

    • john8276 November 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks Dan. Love your use of YUMMY!!

  12. Mike Brouphy November 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm #


    I’m in for the cropped version at the bottom. The issue in the top image taken care of with the cropping is that little triangle of water on the left side that breaks up the visual flow of the sand. Actually, I’d crop up from the bottom to eliminate that annoying little shadow patch right in the middle.

    Thanks for sharing this great image, though. It’s a different view than the stereotypical image of Cape Cod.

    • john8276 November 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

      Thanks for your excellent feedback Mike. Appreciate your support of the blog.

  13. Alice Olive November 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    I think you cropped out a bit of water on the left hand side, which you can see in the second image. The top image is slightly ‘cleaner’ as a result.

    Funny that you said this is balanced evenly because I still see this as one third, two thirds. The bottom part of the image (the golden sand) is a third to me.

    No matter, it’s a beautiful image.

    • john8276 November 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

      Thanks for making an EXCELLENT point Alice. And thus, rules according to whom…. I think your comment is very illustrative of how each sees differently. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Denise Bush November 23, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    I think that the clouds are more balanced looking in the second image. The little hole in the top right of the first image was distracting. Hmmm … where have I heard that lately? (I don’t think that the bit of water now gone on the left matters one way or another.) Neither one is cut right in half but now the second one is less so.

  15. Eric Connor November 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Hello… stumbled upon this site and am attracted by the excellent shots and comments. Thought I might add my 2 cents to this scene. I agree with the elimination of the water on the left, it distracted me, plus it added nothing. But I question the other crop bounds now.

    Bottom crop. I like the very left with the lines flowing off out of the corner. But the right half is the opposit, containing. From left to right, at 65% distance there are lines downward but blocked. Raise the crop line slightly so the base becomes consistant, I can flow out of – and into – the full base of the scene. After all the full base is consistant nearground sand, looking for a consistant flowing border is all.

    Right Crop. With the left water gone it becomes somewhat un-balanced. The dark shadowed depression become “heavy” to me, and what does it add? I would like to try dropping the rightmost side back by about 4% of total picture width, and maybe lighten the shadow tone too knocking back the dark right hand “weight” remaining.

  16. Ts November 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    great scene and composition, bossman!! Wow!

  17. marty golin November 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    I can’t resist a good cropping discussion. IMHO, crop about 1/2 up the clouds (& the nit.) The shape of the sand patterns mirrors the clouds. The literal point of the sand shoots my eye to the smallish bright cloud now near the top. whole thing just sucks you in.

    • john8276 November 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      Always appreciate your comments Marty.

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