#702 When there is “a picture within a picture”

By philberphoto | How-To

Mar 11

Taking great pics is what we’re all about, isn’t it?

Well, not quite, ’cause in this world of digital photography, a picture isn’t necessarily a great picture before it is taken to the cleaners. Meaning undergoing a sequence of post-processing….:-) So post-processing skills are part and parcel of what is required to deliver the great pics we crave.

But there is more than “just” processing pics. We need to “see” the potential of a picture. The easiest way to establish that is to go back in time to a shoot we did some time ago, and look at the pics we left unprocessed. The odds are, we will want to process some of these “discarded” shots, and, more often than not, we will find value in them. In my case, I seldom do this without increasing my yield of postable pictures by at least 10%. It feels like reprocessing waste from gold extraction, and getting yet more gold.

Is that it, then? Take the pic, process the A-list. Enjoy. Go back for a B-list. Process. Enjoy?

Nope, for there may be more gems in your pile IMHO. Cases when we have “a picture within a picture”. I am not talking here of cropping. Sometimes it takes including extreme cropping to get the best possible result, and, with cameras offering a resolution above 40Mp, extreme cropping can be extreme indeed. But that is still a one-image-per-shot yield. At best, 2 different presentations of pretty much the same image.

I am not talking about choosing between 2 valid presentations of the same shot, one more comprehensive, and one less so. Such are the examples I have have shown so far. While both images are enjoyable and defensible IMHO, I don’t really see 2 shots in any one of the twins.

What I have in mind is different: cases when one has a really good picture, but, lurking within it, there is another quite different picture, and also of value, as shown below.

Here is a case in point. A picture of a rosebud. Shot close to wide open. A dreamy quality (or lack of, depending on your taste). But here is what was inside. A very different picture altogether:

I call it “the kiss of the rose”.

Another example, this time an early-morning city shot. The full-size picture is valuable (to me at least), but the story-telling of the next one is quite different, yet valuable also. In the upper image, the story is about the river, in the lower one, about the city…

In typical fashion, Pascal’s comment to the cropped one was “it is the gull that makes the pic”, suggesting that more cropping might yield yet another, third image…:-). Which is almost a 100% crop… Though it always rankles me to admit it, Pascal was right. Please note, the gull isn’t really sharp because it was shot at 1/50s… sorry.

One more “twin”. Twin, as in two planes,  twin-prop and twin-jet…

And the “shot-within-the shot”…

The same sort of twofer, from the same shoot…

And now for a “threefer”, in reverse order this time. Is there any reason for me to “let go” of one or two of the three just because it might not be the one-and-only-favorite? Nope, at least not in my book.

Liking more than one image from a given shot may be construed as a form of indecision. But I like to think not. Like Don Giovanni, in response to Leporello’s lament over his boss’ wooing of countless women, my answer is “e tutto amore!” I like them all.

And it is such an easy -and fun- way to get even more goodies out of our existing shoots…

All we need to do is refrain from thinking “next!” just because we have processed a shot to our liking. And ask ourselves “is that all, or might there be more?”

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    OH dear – I do hope I am not treading on your toes, Philippe – I do have a similar problem, but in my case I find myself telling me off, for not seeing the smaller picture in the first place.

    Having looked very carefully at your examples, and thought it over again, I am now convinced that a lot of the shots I had this issue with were inevitably going to be attacked by the scissors during PP. Had I stood closer, I could not have got those shots – people start to freeze up and act strangely, at the approach of a camera – and some don’t want to be photographed at all. Cropping is a small price to pay for their unconscious co-operation or their tacit consent.

    But of course that’s “people stuff”. When you lay the example of “the kiss of the rose” on the table, I can’t imagine there’d be anyone at all out there with the imagination of capturing such a beautiful image SOOC. If you have to crop to produce such a wonderful image, I’ll gladly lend you my scissors! 🙂

    Next was your shot of the bridge – all I could see was the bird, and I wanted it enlraged, to dominate the scene, as the focal point of interest. Scroll down – oh good, Philippe thinks so too! Thank you Philippe! 🙂

    I also love your doorknob. I’ve been running Dobermanns for decades, and used to belong to the local Canine Association. And took thousands of photos at dog shows or elsewhere. (In fact, I was still taking photos of someone else’s dogs, an hour or two ago). And one thing I always watch out for – and save – is photos where the photographer (me!) is visible as a reflection in one of the dog’s eyes. Gradually amassing a collection of shots of an eyeball with a very distorted shot of me in it. Like you and your doorknob.

    As for your shot at the end – I’ve tried and tried to capture that blasted searchlight thing on the Tower, and so far, haven’t had any real success. Ooops – fancy confessing to being a recidivist photographer of destination tourist shots, on the “Dear Susan” website! – I guess I’ll get stoned for that! Your shot exploits the blue hour to the hilt, and has a dreamy quality that makes the shot timeless, underscoring the age of the Tower. I love it I’m a lot jealous, though! 🙂

  • Mike Ross says:

    Great post, by the way I didn’t see the gull until you mentioned it. The fill the frame shots also work much better on a blog or website. For a large print the big picture might be better.

  • Steffen says:

    Holy shit, now I know why you need more megapixels and higher resolution lenses. These crops are insane, Philippe!

    Btw: You should get yourself a long tele and macro lens.

  • >