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| Re: 2 More Coastal Sunsets |
Like these better than the vertical crop.
The first creates a "bookend" composition. That can be effective to frame a focal point in the middle because it creates > < clues that the brighter stuff is in the middle like a vignette does. The problem is there's nothing interesting in the middle when you are drawn there. It goes to what I said in the equipment thread about "inside-out" cropping.
To create an interesting story you first need a compelling focal point. If there isn't one there's not much reward for looking at it and it will not impress. That's not to say all photos need a strong focal point, only that those which do create a stronger overall impression. The type of photos that work without a well defined focal point are those with an interesting pattern of content (windows on a building) or a similar interesting pattern created by the lighting.
That's the problem here. The perceptually contrasting focal point on the overall dark frame is the bright sky. Take the photos and blur then to the point of abstract and you'll find your eye pulled by the contrast in the tone map to the brightest area of the overall dark frame, the sky. That's the case in almost any landscape with sky in it. That works great if there is a stunning cloud filled sunset as a storyline focal point.
When the sky isn't the focal point the way you prevent the viewer from getting pulled into "dead" space content-wise is to lower the relative contrast of the sky by making the foreground lighter. If you take a landscape with normal seen by eye foreground detail and blue sky and blur it the same way in a B&W conversion the contrast of the sky isn't as strong so the eye isn't pulled as fast up to the sky over the foreground. In a color in daylight the color contrast of blue vs green or warm toned foreground will attract the eye to it. That's why many scenics work better in B&W than color. Ansel Adams, aware of that perceptual dynamic would use a red filter to make skies in scenics darker than normally seen and darker that the foreground to keep the viewer's attention there.
The second shot without the "bookend" composition pulling the eye to the brighter spot in the middle makes the single rock contrasting with the sky the perceptual focal point. But like the first it doesn't pass the "is the focal point interesting?" test.
When I started using the "inside-out" starting with identifying an interesting focal point I found myself not bothering to take a photo like this because I knew that while it was emotionally uplifting in person due to the ambience it wouldn't translate as well into a photo without an interesting focal point. Is it a nice scenic? Yes and I'd take the shot as part of a slide show or album to remember the experience and share with friends. But is it "wall worthy?" Not for my wall because it lacks a compelling focal point or interesting geometric pattern in the content or due to the lighting.