Originally Posted by Marcus
In the context that these are Marcus' opinion of what he likes and what he would want the image to communicate to a viewer, these are excellent comments! Let's put it into a much broader perspective than just what I like and what Marcus likes (the difference is an interesting discussion too, but for now lets think about how to get whatever it is that you like).
Originally Posted by Marcus
Rudolf Arnheim (1904-2007) was a perceptual psychologist who laid much of the groundwork for modern analysis of art. He wrote the classic text, "Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye" originally published in 1954, and then revised it in 1974. And in 1971 he published an essay "Entropy and Art" with this quote taken from the introduction:
"When nothing superfluous is included and nothing indispensable is left out, one can understand the interrelation of the whole and its parts, as well as the hierarchic scale of importance and power by which some structural features are dominant, others are subordinate."
And that is exactly what Marcus is talking about. The difference isn't so much an "improvement" as it is the question of exactly what the photograph is going to communicate to a viewer, and how to emphasize that "message" by making it less ambiguous through removal of entropy. Marcus likes one particular message that can come from the original scene and that exposure, I like a significantly different message. Both are reasonable.
I crop and frame images rather aggressively, and manipulate detail within an image just as aggressively, all with the intent of moving the "structural features" up and down in that "hierarchic scale". The amount of the door that is visible was very carefully considered, as was the relationship between the brightness of the snow and the brightness/saturation of the boat. A number of small distracting details were removed, and only parts of the image were sharpened (in this case I didn't blur anything, but commonly I do).
The scene of course had more of the shed door available, and there is a building on the left side too, that I totally cropped out both with framing and perspective. There was also a considerable amount of thought about how much of the snow in the foreground worked best. This particular exposure is one of several that were taken. Some had more or less of the environment cropped out and some had flash for fill light. The intent was to allow those decisions to be made while post processing rather than limiting myself to what I think the viewfinder image will look like when viewed full size. Oddly, all exposures were made from virtually the exact same spot, as the perspective I wanted was just extremely clear cut.
Hence obviously I did consider what the image looks like when cropped tighter. But my purpose in photographing the boat is not just to make a pretty picture of an old boat!
I photograph Barrow, not boats!
The picture as I framed it communicates something very specific, that isn't there when cropped further, to residents of Barrow. They see history, not just a boat. The boat is just the most prominent of several symbols within an image about Barrow. When cropped there are then several symbols within an image about the boat. It's just a very different photograph!
Hence what I want is very specific, and what Marcus likes and would want is too, but they are also very different. It's really hard to compare apples and oranges... especially if they grow on the same tree as happens to be the case here!
Here is another image that demonstrates the same distinctions. I just love this picture, but what you see in it and what everyone in Barrow can see is very different. Look at all that detail, with a baby, teenagers, young adults, middle aged people and even an old guy with a cane. But that is not what the picture is actually about!
Everyone here looks at that and says, "Wow, a great picture of Warren!" The old man with the cane is the late Warren Matumeak. This image will transform with time though, because it is, like the boat image, a photograph of Barrow Alaska.x