Tuesday, November 29, 2011

(Frustrated) Exploring with a Camera (Cropper)

Linking with my friend Kat for this session of "Exploring with a Camera".  If you haven't checked out this wonderful and helpful series, you're really missing out.  Punch on can thank me later.

Best thing about Kat, she makes you think.  I love learning things, so it's a perfect match for my brain.
The latest installment of Exploring With a Camera is about picture ratios, complete with easy to understand chart.  Very helpful.  Trust me, the word ratio sounds boring, but it's really not and Kat makes it seem easy....even if you're not a math head.

I'd already learned this lesson the hard way.  Grrrrrr.  Last Christmas I tried hard to stay away from gift giving.  I'm not a big fan of the season and keeping it low key helps-I think the ads, music, catalogs, decor that begins on Nov 1 and lasts through Jan 1 (that's 1/6th of the year)-it's just too damn much for me.  NO ONE's life is that perfect please and thank you.  The chance that there will be a new Lexus in my driveway with a big ass red ribbon wrapped around it and seasonally appropriate snow on the ground and falling from the sky is never going to happen.

What was I talking about?  Oh yes, ratios.

So, last holiday season I chose a favorite photo to give to a couple people.  Printed it out, framed it up....and blah.  The 8 x 10, 4:5 crop totally killed my 8 x 12 image.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  The little 5 x 7 held up better because it was closer to that 2:3 I seem to favor.  It killed the image so much it no longer held the emotional response.  It became blah.  This happened a few other other times too.  I was finally brave enough to give my images as gifts and when I framed the 8 x 10 size just didn't work.  I finally figured out the problem.  I'll have to give those individuals some more better cropped images.

Fast forward to holiday season 2011 (which I'd prefer to begin thinking about on approximately 12/22/11), I thought I'd make a calendar of my images to give to family and friends.  I can get a really sweet deal at  BUT, the size of the calendar image template is 8 x 11.  Last night I tried to choose a few-it took a long time so many just didn't work. I'm afraid I may have to consider another way to create a calendar worthy of gift giving at reasonable cost....suggestions?

Here are 3 that I tried to make work (Tim Gunn...."designers, I'm sending in your models"...) Oh help my brain is really quirky today.   I'll just show you what I mean.

Here's my original image:


And here it is cropped for 8 x 11....this one isn't too bad.  My anal retentive self could likely live with this one.
10October copy

The other consideration that's come into play is changing my images from RGB to CMYK which this online service suggests.  Some of them held up, but most were quite altered.   So much to learn.

Across the Sky {177/365}
Across the Sky

2February copy

Perhaps I was a little heavy handed on the processing, but back in February I wasn't doing any.  I also think the CMYK came into play here.

Fish House
Fish House

1January copy

The brightness in this image doesn't scream in the larger version, but cropped it is way too yellow.  I've got to revamp that, AGAIN.

These images were 3 that sort of worked as 8 x 11 but overall this is frustrating.  I didn't realize how much I'm framing my image in the camera and in processing-straightening and cropping to a particular size.  Obviously I'm drawn to an aspect ratio that isn't favored by calendar makers.  I wonder how those professional calendars make it look so easy.

Thanks Kat for reminding me about this ratio "thing" and thanks for the handy chart.  I think I'm going to give framed photos instead.  Next problem...finding 8 x 12 frames at a low, low price.


Brenda said...

Susan - I feel your frustration. We are so used to sharing our images in this virtual world that we forget the limitations placed on us during the printing process. I crop many of my photos using a square crop just because I really like that look - try getting THAT to work for a calendar or a print.

Good luck with finding those frames on sale - I'm sure family and friends will treasure your images in whatever form they take.

seabluelee said...

Susan, I'm with you on the Christmas thing. I get so bah-humbug about having it shoved down my throat even before Halloween that I don't click into gear until it's almost too late. Then I end up spending a fortune priority-mailing things to get them across the country in time. Every year I vow to do better. You can guess how that goes. (Heavy sigh.)
I googled 8 x 12 frames and found several listed. B&H Photo has one for under $4.50. I'm sure you can find some! And I agree with Brenda - I'm sure they'll be appreciated in any form!

Susan said...

I agree. Most of last year I shot my shots with the intent of how they were viewed SOOC. I didn’t even consider that I might want them printed in a size of a standard frame or calendar (and thus need to crop them).

I just printed one of my Great Wall shots and ended up with a 24”x36” canvas just so I didn’t have to crop it! (Plus there was the whole wrap around the sides’ thing to consider.) I did another couple of recent shots and ended up with making some crazy sizes work, but nothing standard and so I paid a bit more and had them thin mounted a board instead of trying to find frames.

It was surprising at how even a bit of cropping could change the mood and colors so dramatically. It’s another thing to add to the list of things to think about when shooting to be certain! Good luck!

Mira said...

I love your January photo! I understand frustration. I would try to find a used frame at a local flea market.

LeAnne said...

I feel your pain. I'm experimenting with print on demand and I like that Fine Art America sizes to YOUR print, so whatever you give them prints out exactly how you give it to them. That might not help you with your calendar project, but their quality of prints is superb.

Tamar SB said...

These are all stunning!! Love the shop of the fish house!

Carol Blackburn said...

Hi Susan, you are experimenting?
I recently submitted 4 of my photos to a calendar contest that said they wanted them in 300 dpi. Beats me how I'm supposed to email them in that size. Tried to figure it out and practically drove myself crazy so just emailed my photos the way they were and crossed my fingers. None of them were chosen and I can't wait to see the ones that were. It's the Mechanics Savings Bank 2012 calendar. You didn't happen to submit photos to that, did you?

Nadege, said...

Printing from digital can be such a frustrating event. All the commercial printing place seem to have the old standard size which of course don't match out cameras' ratios.

Lovely images but I can see what you mean with the first shot. The cropped one doesn't quite have the same feel.

Kat Sloma said...

Great exploration Susan! I think you did a great job with cropping all three of those last photos. Very different from the original, but they still work. It can be a huge frustration to try and get these virtual prints in the real world. The one good thing - we can experiment on the screen before we order the print, unlike in film days! Thanks so much for sharing in Exploring with a Camera. :)

justine said...

I love that second shot, the light is great. Try and do all your cropping in camera, that was what I was taught.

martinealison said...

Je suis restée longuement admirative devant vos oeuvres... Vos photos sont tellement belles...
gros bisous

EG Wow said...

I enjoyed reading this post and will definitely check out the link you provided.

gina said...

Your rant on December gifts gave me a chuckle -- I so agree. The ratio thing gives me a headache. I do think Justine is on to something. Can you find frames with the mat sized for your images? Sometimes they'll cut the mat for you. I love your fish house photo -- beautiful!

Cathy H. said...

This was an eye-opening exploration! I'm bad about filling the frame and not allowing any extra room to crop. I love the calendar idea, though, I may keep that in mind for next year! Great post!!

Ms. Becky said...

hmmm. I've never had to deal with any of these issues but it's good to know up-front how difficult it can be. by way of preparation in case any of this is ever relevant to my own needs and desires. I'm not seeing how the cropped photo of January is way too yellow. I do see that it's more yellow, but I don't see that it's too anything, other than maybe lovely. oh stop. I'm thinking that if I ever want to do any of this, I need a personal assistant to just take care of for me. Ha! This is a very interesting post... Hope the sun is shining on the top of your head Susan!

Gilly said...

This is such a frustrating problem. I've always cropped my images so that the image looks at its best and to hell with it fitting any particular aspect ratio! If I want to frame them, what I do is get a mount cut to the size and shape of my photo that also fits in the frame. It doesn't cost much to get a nice mount cut.

If you send photos away for printing, you just choose the next size up for the print and they'll come back with a white border on two of the sides. You either cut it off or it gets hidden behind the mount. It works for me....

My problem at the moment is that the prints for my course assignments are all expected to be a similar size, so that's forced me to do things a bit differently. It's been quite a challenge.

How great to hear someone else say they're not that keen on Christmas! I think there's a lot of us out here, but the pressure is on to pretend that it's all one lovely, happy, cosy holiday. That's very far from the reality for a lot of people. I have many single friends who spend it alone. (Yes, I have asked them to join us but they say they'd feel uncomfortable doing that) I always think it's really a time for children and families, and if you don't have any children or not much in the way of family then you can feel isolated and excluded. It never surprises me that suicides rise over the holidays. And don't get me started on the commercial aspects of this annual craziness.......

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