Posts Tagged ‘graffiti’

This is not a great crop. While the chain is interesting and most of the focal points are in the rule of thirds, there is an annoying plant from the foreground surging up on the left, and the dribs from something that should have been entirely cropped out on the edge of the middle bottom. The chain is beautifully done but there isn’t enough variety to hold the interest of the viewer. In this case, a little too much repetition, so much so that we find the distracting plant and darker element almost a relief. The artist is not to blame for the lack of interest. This item was at the very bottom of the wall, it was never meant to be a focal point, but rather (in my opinion) a filler. Yes, a very well executed filler, but a filler. I do love seeing the patterning on the wall behind the chain, but again, this is background in a very small area, not meant to have our undivided attention. My point is this. Just because I am in love with something, like the look of this sprayed chain, does not mean it can carry a crop. There must still be an adherence to rules of good composition, plus a little more to look at.

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Another crop of the magnificent graffiti wall shown earlier in the week. This crop follows the rule of thirds, with the lightest toned part of the image (mountain) on a third. We have an off centered crop and the repetition of the shape of triangles three times in the focal points. When selecting elements to crop, a good rule of thumb is to use an odd numbered amount of focals. We have lost and found. Keep in mind that the eye goes to the lightest color first when viewing an image, so the lightest should be well placed. There is a hierarchy of what the mind wants to see and how it orders it. Light color, face parts (human) face parts (animal) face parts (babies). Of the facial expressions, eyes then mouth. Hands and feet are important. Light colors moving to dark, other body parts. So if you want to crop a face, always try for the eyes first placed on a third, using the mouth on a third or eliminating the mouth for a stronger crop. That way the mind doesn’t have to play the choice game of what to look at. As I view this crop I notice a lack of emotional response. I was more interested in yesterday’s reptile tail. I believe that is because of the curvilinear look of the tail as opposed to the very linear shapes of these buildings. Also, these buildings are man made, the tail is natural and belonging, we assume, to something live even tho we couldn’t see the entire animal. We can appreciate the skill needed to create these buildings ON a building, the texture mixes, the shading for the windows and door, etc. But the image does not stir me like yesterday’s crop. Perhaps it is my skill in cropping, perhaps this crop is not as good as yesterday’s. But if it wasn’t for the mountain (nature) in the background, if that had been another man made building and not a mountain, you probably wouldn’t be looking at this image today. The mountain saves this crop from being a study in architecture.

From yesterday’s full document style picture of graffiti in St. Pete, we have today’s first crop of crops. When I was looking at the full pix yesterday the most intriguing part for me, being a reptile lover, was the tail billowing from the back of the Viking warrior. The artist rendered the scales most beautifully, and I love the shape, which reminds me of an upended infinity symbol. I wanted most of the tail to show, but not all of it, so I sacrificed the very end. This creates the desirable effect of “lost and found”, which is also in play on the right side of the crop. It is more intriguing for the image to “wander off” the page, and return, than to see the whole thing, perhaps smaller, in the shot. Of course, this could have been even further cropped by showing only the one top curled part of the tail…there are always several good options when an image is well composed to begin with. But I liked the blue against the grey-the yellow against the blue-and the part of what might be a shield in the very bottom right, with it’s runic suggestion. Please notice that the middle of my crop is nearly empty of interest. What is there is merely moving the eye to something more interesting. All the action is in the thirds and in the very bottom corners. While the viewer has no real idea of the magnitude of the original “document”, the crop is satisfying on it’s own and that is what I think makes a successful vignette. It creates the desire to see more, but not an empty desire.

Elizabeth from the excellent Glowing Wheel blog sent me a thoughtful comment yesterday after my post on cropping artwork. I appreciated the comment because it reminded me of how difficult it can be to get the original photo composed well, whether it is a found shot as above or a shot (scan) of our own artwork. Or composing the artwork to begin with is often a challenge. So I thought, on my 101th post, I would discuss the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds is this: Imagine two equidistant lines vertically and horizontally over top of your image. Where these lines intersect is the most advantageous point for your main focus. There can be more than one focal point in a composition but one should be dominant and there should not be too many! For more insight than I have space for, check out “rule of thirds” on Wikipedia for a good explanation plus examples. The rule of thirds applies to photographs, collages, paintings and mixed media pieces as composition is always rule one. It doesn’t matter how fascinating or beautifully rendered the subject matter is, bad composition will not convey it.

The photo above documents what I saw on a wall in St. Pete approximately two years ago (sadly no longer there). The artist composed well and your eyes move successfully around the image in a satisfying way. One feels one has seen the entire composition in one look. This is good. As one who likes to crop, however, I see many intriguing areas, both inside and outside the “thirds” that I would like a closer look at. As the week progresses, I will do some cropping that satisfies my curiosity, and perhaps yours as well. I will try to explain how and why I cropped as I did. And you will get a closer look at this excellent artwork.

Close cropping is nothing new to photographers but I think as artists we sometimes forget that in every composition it is possible to find small, interesting bits that can stand on their own. Particularly when it comes to what the human mind finds intriguing, such as faces of humans and animals, body parts of same, etc. Also in our images it is possible to find small arrangements of odd numbered items or marks that make a substantial impact on their own if cropped. I find that cropping “busy” subjects, such as the graffiti I’ve featured on this blog frequently, lets the mind appreciate what is there in smaller mind-sized “bites”. While a wide angle shot (or full shot) documents a piece, a close crop provides more of a study.

Graffiti, St. Pete

Posted: March 29, 2012 in graffiti
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Another portion of a graffiti wall, unfortunately no longer visible, in downtown St. Pete a year or so ago. I was lucky to run across two graff artists in process on a smaller wall that day who answered some questions I had and were pretty inspirational. The wall this piece is from contained images by most likely half a dozen artists in a montage; it was stunning. I think this hand is gorgeous and love the stenciling and starburst of color inĀ  red.

Part of an multi-artist installation in St. Pete about 1-2 years ago. I love the juxtaposition of the checkboard with the free flowing lines in the figure. That figure is fierce…certainly a modern day warrior of some sort, with a touch of dia de los muertos thrown in for good measure. Not sure if the checkboard part belonged to the same artist as the figure part, they could have coexisted. I enjoy seeing this type of work and shoot it whenever possible because it often does not last very long, even if sanctioned by a store or local government. Sometimes they spray over just to change the installation before I have a chance to get there and document it. But the transitory nature of the media just enriches it.