At Home with Tech

Figure out which consumer tech you need, the right gear to buy and how to use your new gadgets.

Tag: photography

Why Cropping into your Photos can Save your Shots

When editing your camera’s photos, you might need to look for the shot within the shot. Here are some examples.

After you snap a photo, you may have a good sense whether you’ve captured the image you want. Instant digital review certainly is a wonderful thing. But I would recommend not immediately deleting a photo that didn’t catch the moment or missed its intended focus point. Perhaps there’s a different element in the shot you’re not aware of that is in focus.

If you take a little time to study these photos, it’s amazing what you might find hidden in plain sight. And thanks to those many millions of pixels that are crammed into photos, you can usually crop deep into the image to pull out a detail with clarity.

No, it’s not quite like that scene from “Blade Runner” where Harrison Ford’s Deckard closely examines a digital photo and tells the computer to “move in and enhance.” But it’s amazingly close. You may not be able to print a large poster of your super-cropped photo, but it’ll likely still look great on your smartphone or computer screen.

Follow the Focus
I enjoy snapping flower shots with my Panasonic Lumix LX10. I prefer using manual focus in the attempt to make the flower pop out of its blurred background (bokeh).

But since the area of focus is especially narrow, it’s easy to miss the mark.

Instead of discarding these three pics that missed their focus targets, I followed the camera’s focus and then cropped in to save the shots.
(I use Adobe Lightroom.)
Yes, I missed the center of this flower, but the crisp edge of the petal is still interesting.

Much of this alien-like plant looked blurry, except for the tip of the back blooming stem. So, I zoomed in super tight to center on those crazy red sprouts.

Most of these fallen tree blossoms on my driveway ended up out of focus, but I cropped in tight enough to locate a few that weren’t caught in the blur.

Find your Needle in the Haystack
Even if focus isn’t a problem, you may still want to crop into a portion of a photo to give it some punch. If the entire shot isn’t that special, perhaps there’s a strong section to highlight.

I’ve been doing a lot of hiking with family and friends over the past year, and I’ve discovered that stunning views in nature don’t always translate into a quickly snapped photo. That usually happens to me when I try to take shots of a bubbly stream in a forest. It’s difficult to capture that sparkly view. So, when editing those pics, I sometimes explore the motion in the water.
In this cropped image I snapped with my iPhone, I was drawn to the linear patterns in the water created by the stream’s rush over rocks.

Show a Piece of the Puzzle
Beyond using this photo-cropping technique as a fix, you may find ongoing enjoyment in intentionally creating cropped shots that represent a piece of a larger story. (I certainly have.)

Sometimes a taste is all you need to fill in the rest.

I’ll give you a hint: My 5th grader’s science experiment using salt, hot water and a piece of string

If you’re still left with a mystery, is that so bad?

Less is More
I often like to say that “less is more” in visual storytelling. This perspective comes from my professional experience in video content creation and has certainly held up throughout my personal photography work.

Enjoy your own exploration of all of those smaller spaces in your photos.

The Power of Anticipation

Though the effects of winter are still weighing heavy, I found spring at the base of the forest. 

I always look forward to snapping pictures of spring. There’s that special window of time when nature suddenly reemerges. The early colors. The bright greens. The young buds. It’s nature’s celebration of life returning to normal.

As I peer out of my home office window, we’re not quite there. Not yet. Sure, there have been several warm, sunny days in Fairfield County, CT. And there are some early signs of reawakening outside. Yes, spring is officially here, but nature has its own schedule.

If you think I’m drawing a parallel to our present pandemic existence, I am. Our lives are frozen in so many ways, but thankfully thawing with the rollout of vaccines. 

In Search of Life as We Know It

I headed out on a hike this past weekend to Collis  P. Huntington State Park in Redding, CT. I brought along a couple cameras with the intent to capture nature’s visual equivalence of our current state of anticipation.

As I took in the forested area, much was still in hibernation mode. But when I looked closely, the rebirth was already well underway. Not so much high up in the trees, but closer to ground. The foundations of the ecosystem was kicking into high gear.

These photos promote a near future when spring fully arrives.

I can’t wait.

Nature, Technology, and the New Year

This photomosaic is my homage to the opposing elements that have helped to maintain my balance throughout the pandemic.

I don’t usually think of nature and technology as being cut from the same cosmic cloth. But together, they’ve done so much to help me endure all of the disconnection caused by the pandemic. Over the past year, I’ve found it remarkable to see how much these opposite elements have been able to fuel both the spirit as well as some simple daily essentials.

For me, there’s been a huge need to rebuild connection points that have been shattered throughout all of the disruptions.

Too Much Zoom?
I don’t have to tell you how much Zoom and other video conference platforms have helped to maintain face-to-face communication throughout all parts of our lives.

But unrestricted by life’s former patterns, our computers have also beckoned for our extended attention without regard to former boundaries. Zoom fatigue was the term we gave to the resulting drain on our life force.

Choosing to break away from the digital siren’s glow and step outside for a simple walk has been critical to maintaining sanity. Doing a nature walk is even better. For me, it’s been a great way to refresh and remember what’s really important in life.

Back to the Future
Leaning on both nature and technology helped me to keep it together in 2020. It’s about maintaining balance. And for me, I did that by better balancing my time between the two.

There were also ways to positively engage with both simultaneously. I found that snapping more nature photos and time-lapse sunrise videos was a joyous connective tether.

As we look to a better 2021, we should continue to weave together the impact of these two contrary forces. Eventually, there will be a next new normal after the pandemic ends. That life should continue to reflect our healthier balance with both technology and nature. (That’s my New Year’s resolution.)

And if your harmony isn’t quite there yet, now’s a great time to get started!

I wish you a safe and healthy 2021.

%d bloggers like this: