CJ Wilkes

About CJ Wilkes Photography

Capturing Your Dance In The Rain is such a thrill and joy to me. Being able to look back on those special times through beautiful artistic imagery makes it a worthwhile challenge.
Learning to Dance in the Rain has been very easy for me. I am drawn to Water & Life! The exciting part for me is to teach you to enjoy your moment in the dance as I capture it from behind my camera.
Looking forward to Capturing Your Dance In The Rain
CJ Wilkes

Tag: ‘Composition’

Cropping of images ~ Rule or Preference?

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Today someone had asked a question on a crop and why people may shy away from it. In Art there are certain “rules”, yes, but once you know the rules they are yours to break.

Some rules for cropping fall under composition. There are certain compositions that simply are more appealing to the eye. Just to list a few

1 The Golden Ratio

The numeric ratio is Phi  1.618… (number never ends.)  The easiest way to picture the Golden Ratio is by looking at a rectangle with a H = 1 & a W = 1.618… . If you drew one line in the Rectangle resulting in 1 square and 1 rectangle, the square’s sides would = ratio of 1:1. And the rectangle would = exactly the original rectangle: 1:1.618. You could repeat the process in the smaller rectangle and can infinitely continue the process.

2 The Rule of Thirds

It is probably the most referred to rule as to the placement of your subject in the frame.  If you were to divide the framed area into 2 horizontal lines (creating 3 sections horizontally) and 2 vertical lines (creating 3 sections vertically) there would be 9 squares and 4 intersecting points. Those would guide you in placing your subject within the thirds. Usually you want the main subject to be either in the third quadrant or their eye or main part of interest landing on one of the 4 intersecting points.


In a group I help moderate The Photo-Help Group they had a challenge being on the topic Rule of Thirds. This is the banner I created as an example of the rule. The grid helps give a visual as to the placement of subject VS the points and sections.

3 Asymmetrical Balance

When the left and right sides of the design are unequal it is said to have asymmetrical balance. You can also have an asymmetrical balance with just 2 subjects that are not mirrored.

4 Radial Balance


This can be obtained if all the elements in the image radiate from the center in a circular motion. Several elements emerge from the center making the focal point illuminate or pop out. Think of the spokes of a tire or a daisy with it’s pedals moving away from the center.

5 Symmetrical Balance

This can be Mirroring – but is not limited to an exact replica. There is an equal balance to the image. You can have a different design on each side of the image but the portions are equal. Think of a wall of windows and a door in the middle. Equal numbers of windows on both sides. Now the paint may be some odd design but the proportions are equal balancing the image perfectly.

There are other things talked about in composition – but it is important that I mention these when talking about cropping because it may help you determine the perfect crop for your image. I will talk about them further in their own future blogs. For now, let’s get back to cropping.

After examining what you know about composition “rules” and you have an image you have just edited before you you have the option of leaving as is or adding a new touch or feel to it by the way you choose to crop it. Myself, I take several shots of the same subject so that I can offer several perspectives or even so I can play with cropping. This happens to be one of my favorite things to play with in deciding how to display my work. The rest of this blog will be assisted with a visual – just one subject shot multiple ways and cropped to assist in creating the best visually appealing display of it. These were shot at the LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) Seattle Temple grounds at a wedding I was shooting. Because cameras are not allowed inside the temple during the ceremony, I spent that time photographing around the temple grounds. It is a special part to their culture and lives. Here are some examples of just the one subject and its variations:



2 slightly different perspectives in the original 2:3 ratio out of camera. I personally do not like the 4:5 ratio which is known as 8×10 or 16×20. I dislike how it cuts into the image even though I leave plenty of space to do so if I need to because of a clients needs or desires. In a camera the images usually export as the 2:3 or 4×6, 8×12, 16×24. It is a personal preference – but if I take a picture I like to see it how I envisioned it in my mind and before me – not to mentions how I see it in the window. To cut into it just is not how I usually intend.  The perspective in how I shot was mindful of the rule of thirds in that the grass was in the first third, the figurines began on the first horizontal line and you were led upward – at the same time keeping symmetry because of how they were displayed. Center focus being the main subject.

Now I did mention that there are other options & truly, those options are limitless. For myself I tend to crop in either 1:1, 1:2, & 1:3 ratios for sharing with my clients. I am going to show the 1:1 = square and 1:2 which is often done as 10×20, 15×30, or 20×40. Why do I design this way? I love the ratio’s.

1:1 square is one that people either Love or dislike. I find that it is functional. If you are going to do a wall display the square can be used as a center piece, help with symmetry, or be a great filler. It also can bring you to focus on one subject nicely.


I shot this with a square in mind. I also made sure that I was down on my belly so that the lines would lead up to the figurines.


This is an instagram shot of my dining room wall. You can see that the wall display has a 1×1 ratio image in the center as I spoke about earlier. As I mentioned, the square is a very functional shape and ratio to use for your crops.

One of the photographers who had caught my eye in the past was Brooke Shaden. When I visited her site I had noticed that most if not all in her gallery were done in the square crop. This is her artistic preference. Is she wrong for doing so? No. She knows what she wants in her end result and it is her right as the artist.

The above image of my wall display brings me into the next crop which I have so much fun with!!! I fell in love with this crop when working with my husband and his art. Nathaniel P. Wilkerson, Gitxsan Artist – many of his pieces fall into the square crop because of drum designs which are circular. Then he has a few others which are different because of A – the design itself lends better with a different crop or B – we ended up with scraps that we did not want to waste, so he designed his Medeek print (and the Kermode) specifically with the thin ratio in mind.



Copper Medeek




Those can be seen on his sight here: http://wilkersonart.com/prints.html

The fun part of this is that when his clients purchase this they can place it over doorways, archways – areas where they were blank. It became such a popular print not only because of the design but the size lent well to the needs of those looking. So much so that he has others in mind to be designed in that same aspect ratio.

For myself, I loved having a different way of looking at the images and my clients loved it too. Besides that, 1:2 ratio works very well on a spread in albums which is one of my top selling items, it works well in a trio on the wall or small areas. Simply a fun crop all around. Here is the figurine image done in the 1:2 ratio:


In this ratio the display is more of the focal point. There is not as much room for the background or foreground to take up the attention. With people, it is also a great way of bringing the attention strait to them and their eyes. Here I have a photo of the lovely Kaitlyn Martin. The spot was so fun and the stairway gave a special element to the overall shot. The 1:2 ratio married well with this shot.



There really is no right or wrong decision as long as you understand how to make those crops work well with your work or your work work well with those crops. It then all comes down to your preference. I hope this helped you view some of your possibilities in a new light. Keep tuned for some other informative posts on techniques.





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