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To Crop or Not?

June 29, 2010

By Danielle Lancaster

The days are flying far too quickly, yet I am finding myself now taking a much different approach to my photography. The reason is simple; I am seeing a more in-depth side through friends such as Chanman and his family, the nuns, Somnieng, second head monk of Wat Damnak, my photography buddies and more.When I first arrived I was shooting predominantly high key work, much I presume was due to my mood on arrival and now that has changed in the last day and my work has taken on a darker tone.

In the last day I have seen a traditional medicine man wave a ‘hand’ of healing, monks dying while in the care of young boy monks, and listened.

Life in a nunnery is rather unique, I am quickly finding bonds with the Don Chee’s and others that live within the confines’ of the monastery, near the heart of ancient Siem Reap and its temples.

We all see things differently. As I compile my photo essay and sift and edit through the countless images two things are coming glaring out at me: to crop or not and busy backgrounds.

This is one image I have tagged for the final cull in my photo essay. My question is: Should I crop or not?

All cropping will be done using the aspect ratio of 35mm as that is what I am shooting and how I believe it should be done.

My whole photo essay is being shot using natural light. This at times is challenging as the light can be very poor and when working in nano seconds there is much to take into account quickly for correct composition and exposure. There is a law in psychology, the law of partial fulfilment, and I experience it here. Sometimes I get what I want, sometimes I don’t and I keep going back.

Items pleasing to the mind such as juxtaposition, repetition of pattern and element to make an image graphic and rewarding to the viewer are forever here pushing me and pushing me.

While I think the work will work fine in colour, I have decided to make it black and white due to my subject matter. The number of images in the final body I am yet unsure of and no doubt will have a little panic attack before it is submitted tomorrow.

So I prepare for another day out shooting and dare I say, I am already planning my return journey back.

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