Upload & Sell: Off
Cgardner - You make a really good point about different aspects fighting for attention. Your crop still pulls you into the background but in a much smoother fashion it seems. Thank you.
That's due to the physiology of human vision. Our eyes move around a scene or photo in a series of saccades (quick jumps) and fixations between things that attract attention. In person we react to sound, movement and other stimuli a photo doesn't have. In a photo our eyes react to contrasts in tone, color, texture, etc.
In your original crop the carving on the wall on the right seen out of the corner of your eye when looking at the statue on the right is screaming to your brain "HEY COME LOOK AT ME" because it has contrasting texture that piques curiosity. So the brain tells the eyes to dart across the frame to look at it. That eye movement in the photo has a effect similar to how you'd react if you hear a noise coming from that direction and were startled. The stronger the contrast of the object moving the eye across the frame, the fast the eye darts across to find it and the greater the sense of tension there is in the photo.
One of the things that makes your photo work, and the detail on the right so distracting, is its narrow color palette and range of tone. When all the colors and tones in a photo are similar it will make other types of contrast, such as detail and relative sharpness of objects more of a factor in how the eye moves around a photo. In your original the statue attracts attention because it is a human face, large and sharply focused. The carving on the wall attracts attention because of everything else on the frame it has the most detail.
The other significant element that catches the eye is the column/post on the ground immediately behind the statue. It isn't as distracting as the carving on the right because your eyes can see it more or less at the same time as the statue without any rapid eye movement across the frame.
By removing the contrasting detail on the right with my crop I removed the reason for the eye to dart over in that direction so when it does wander off the statue to explore the background context it does so at a more relaxed pace creating a more harmonious sensation.
Once you become consciously aware of how this "ping-ping" dynamic in composition triggers a sensation of tension or harmony you can start to use it effectively to intentionally creating the impression of harmony or conflict between photo elements. For example if you want to depict a married couple fighting you'd want to compose the shots with one on either edge of the frame with an huge empty space in the middle. If you want to depict them as being very much in love you'd want to pose them together, heads touching with no gap seen between them. Compositionally the first would be competing centers of interest and the second unified centers of interest. The first forces the eye to jump across the frame to see both the second allows both to be seen at the same time.
It's not just physical separation which creates that type of reaction but also the degree your centers of interest contrast with the background. That's why in my edit I also lightened the background to make the darker statue contrast. Blurring the background has the same effect. The degree to were to blur it in that shot will control whether or not the viewer will be tempted to explore the background context.
I blurred it a bit in my edit to make the background a bit less compelling than in your shot, but not so much blur the sense of context was lost. That type of judgement on foreground / background balance via DOF control is often quite difficult to make when shooting. Cameras focus wide open with minimal DOF and when shooting other than wide open the resulting photo will have more DOF than seen when framing the shot unless the DOF preview button is used. Using the DOF preview button used to be more or less an automatic reflex for me back in the days of manual focused lenses like the ones on my Nikon F, but nowadays I just gauge the DOF at the shooting aperture it via the playback.