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I noticed something odd while I was editing a few recent images that I found interesting and thought I’d share… We’ve had some spectacular “cloudshows” lately and I stopped to capture one in the parking lot of my local grocery store. I liked the angle of the cloud formation and the overhead, umbrella of the massive formation on the left. While looking at it on the screen, I made a duplicate copy to try a different crop so I could look at them side by side. The two images aren’t that different but… it occurred to me that I was looking at images with two different subjects!

cropped version

In the cropped version above, the eye is moving down the dark column on the left and finally rests on the bright sun in the sunset at the bottom. To me, the subject  of this image is the sunset, the color and drama in the distance.

original version

In the original, it’s just the opposite… the eye is drawn down the thin clouds from the right and back up to the bright spot at the top. The eye is being lead in a completely different direction. (See the black and white images with the arrows.) The subject of this version of the image is the overwhelming scale of the scene, the height of the column of clouds, aided by the bright edge at the top and the tiny light poles at the bottom. A completely different feel. The actual sunset is secondary.

I’ve never seen as dramatic an example of the effects of knowing where the eye is being led and how much a simple edit can change the subject of an image. It’s important to know where the viewer’s eye is going in the composition of an image. You want the viewer to see what you see… to experience the impact of the scene as you did… or at least as close as you can assist them to see and feel.

Which image conveys what I wanted you to see? I’d have to pick the original. While I cropped the duplicate to make it a stronger composition, I lost the subject I wanted to present… the scale and feeling of being a tiny being on a beautiful planet… a very special place, even in the grocery store parking lot! :)

Agree? or Disagree? Your thoughts?