Observing Movement and Flow

Let's explore how cropping a photo in different ways affects the visual flow of the composition. I began with this photo of a guy walking down a sidewalk in Havana, Cuba. I think I was actually take a photo of the textured cinderblock wall behind him, but I like how this impromptu moment was captured.

Unprocessed, raw photo

Unprocessed, raw photo

When I was reviewing the photo I considered whether the pale green areas in the corners were a distraction because they were so much lighter than most everything else in the photo.

The first adjustments I took were to balance things out. I cropped to make the green areas symmetrical. I also selectively darkened the green corners to make them a little less pale. Now the photo has balance going for it. 

processed photo

processed photo

Then I began to think what if there was green only on one side, or no green at all. How would this affect things? Better? Worse? Simply different?

Check out the variations side by side. Click any photo to see it larger.

Now let's discuss. 

Top R: Removing the green altogether simplifies the image and you lose some sense of place and context (how large is the cinderblock wall). think this makes it less interesting.

Bottom L: The green keeps pulling the eye back to left. Your eye goes to the guy, back to the green, back to the guy, and so on. Competes with the flow of the scene.

Bottom R: The location of the green follows the flow of the composition. Your eye moves left to right, first reaching the guy, then continuing across pulled by the green. I'm not sure I like it better than my symmetrical crop (though it's growing on me), but I think it is the best of these three variations. There's visual tension between the subject and the green area, but the position of the green creates some balance.

It's good to work the brain by exploring variations.

Tech Specs
Processing: Lightroom
Camera: Fuji X-Pro 1
Lens: 18-55mm
Aperture: 8
Shutter: 1/50