Last night at my camera club meeting, I was criticized for the placement of the subject in one of the photographs I submitted for the night’s critique.  The photograph (click here) is of a Sandhill Crane very near to and flying toward the edge of the frame not into the frame.  This is a photo club composition no-no.  In fact, when I first saw the photograph, although  I loved it, when I looked again I thought, “it’s too close to the edge of the frame” meaning, there’s no room for the bird to fly.   I discussed my concerns with Moose and told him that I was showing him the photograph because I loved it but I also knew the bird was in the wrong place in the frame.  He assured me that it wasn’t in the wrong place and that it was really OK to break the rules of composition.  Sometimes that can create a powerful statement which is what I felt in this case.  The bird’s eye is focused on something out of the frame and it is heading toward it.  The placement creates tension and urgency and that contributes to the story.  It’s not just a Sandhill Crane flying…it’s a Sandhill Crane flying someplace.  A couple of club members asked me why I chose to place the bird where I did (I actually didn’t choose it; I was panning and just trying my best to keep the bird in the frame but I liked the result).  One member even offered to move the bird to a better place in the frame using Photoshop.  While I appreciated the generous offer, I told him I knew how to do that but I liked the tension in the photograph.  I don’t think I convinced him.  It was a bit ironic, I thought, because the evening’s judge started out by talking about breaking the rules of composition.  Apparently though, sometimes it isn’t acceptable to break the rules.

Here are two other shots from the sequence.  They are still not ideally placed according to the club, but they are not as close to the edge as the original.  However, the original shot is still my preferred shot because of the bird’s expression and the wing placement.

Bosque Day 4 183812-3Bosque Day 4 183815-1

5 thoughts on “2018—Placement

  1. Carol: Love these shots. The the colors brought out due to time of day are perfect and they way you have used Bokeh to separate the bird from the background in makes the shot a winner. I can’t wait until we can get a day and time set, out of your hectic photographic schedule to do a shoot together. who know maybe you can teach this old bird (Pardon the Pun) a new trick or two. Keep it up!

  2. If it’s good enough for Moose, it’s good enough for me! Excellent shots as always! Your post supports my whole issue with the judging system (we don’t judge at our club, only critique). We have a few judges in our class and club- and I often cringe when I hear rules being quoted as if straight from God. Your photos are magnificent!

  3. If you like it you’ve pleased the most appropriate “judge”, it’s your photo. Critiquing or judging is purely subjective, “the rules” offer some guidelines to follow but are not inviolate. The photo is best judged by the maker & the outside judge only gives his two cents worth to the ultimate opinion of the photographer who made the photo.

  4. Not a photographer but like the one you selected the best — more direct and better view of face & wings. Just my opinion………….

  5. Gotta agree with Moose (and everyone else)! The crane about to leave the frame in the upper left-hand corner is much more interesting than if he’d been anywhere else, precisely because it shifts the focus to an unexpected place. The red bead of his eye reinforces that it’s not about flying somewhere but looking beyond towards something we can’t see. The “empty” space behind him is like the negative space in a Chinese watercolor, and suggests what he’s leaving behind! You can say you’ve taken a page from Goya and his “sinking dog” painting found on one of the walls of his residence after he died: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dog_(Goya)

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