Where to crop?

This is a bit of an unconventional post, I guess. I am asking for some help.

I posted these images on my Facebook page yesterday and received some great feedback from friends and family. But, now I think I have more questions than answers. Let me explain.

I took this image on our recent trip to Fort Bragg, at Mackerricher State Park. The sun was setting, it was within the golden hour and the waves and ocean shore were very picturesque.

I am happy with the coloring in the color image and the black and white image is getting there…but I can’t find the right place to crop either of these images. In its original size, it feels like there is too much ocean and sky. The rocks, which I appreciate get lost, to me.

Photo By: Carrie

So I first tried cropping some of the ocean out, but I am not feeling it.


Then I tried more ocean and less sky…


Which is more on the right track, but still feels out of balance for some reason.

So, I moved on to black and white, thinking maybe I would just use a black and white version of this image…

DSC05956_webbwI like the crop, at least I think I do, on the black and white version but it could use a little more sky too, possibly.

I am not sure why this is bothering me so much, usually I either like something or I don’t, I don’t have to stew over it for more than a day. If you don’t mind, I would really appreciate your opinion and if you have some, your guidelines for how you crop images. A good crop can really change an image, in many positive ways. I am just really uneducated in this area, but think this image in particular could use a little more T.L.C.

I would really appreciate your help and starting a conversation.


  1. To me the first crop with plenty of sky is more appealing. It fits better with the rule of thirds and losing the foam and smaller rocks in the bottom of the frame makes the larger rocks appear more isolated and makes them pop from the background.

    1. Thank you Effective Pixels, I appreciate your feedback. I can see what you are saying, and I know when I was cropping I was thinking of those “rules of thirds” and trying to keep them in play.

  2. Hi Carrie, this is such a stunning picture šŸ˜ƒ
    I really agree with previous comment – the sky has such gorgeous colour. Been sitting here pondering – could you try cropping just above the first rock, bottom left? This leaves white foam and plenty of movement in the ocean.
    Using a 6 x 4 ratio or the equivalent in LR, try getting as close to thirds as you can.
    Just my 2 cents and only the way I see things šŸ˜ƒšŸ˜ƒ Truly lovely x

    1. Oh thank you for pondering…I am really happy with the how the colors worked out in the color image. It is so soothing to me. I’ll try your suggestion(s) and see where it takes me…sometimes it takes some extra work, doesn’t it! Thank you!!

      1. Happy to ponder Carrie – lovely quietness about this for me, even though its the ocean. I find water peaceful anyway!
        Yes Just my thoughts – maybe it could give you some direction, or not šŸ˜œ Looking forward to seeing what you do.

      2. I tried your suggestion, and it works! I think šŸ™‚ I added a radial filter to the foam to add a little light into that area and saturated the sky slightly, hopefully not overdoing it! And I am happy, at this moment. My sister really likes this image, that is why I am doing all this fretting. Her husband is going to (she doesn’t read my blog regularly so I doubt this is ruining anything) have this image printed LARGE and they will hang it in their home. She loves the ocean, so I want it to feel just right šŸ™‚ I’ll post a follow-up post, I appreciate the feedback, sometimes it takes a community to keep the flow going!

      3. Oh thats really great Carrie and such a lovely gift for your sister šŸ˜ƒ
        She’ll love it!
        Look forward to seeing your follow up post.

  3. Hi Carrie, I think the first one is the best among them. But, for discussion and experiment sake, I’ll crop the original photo vertically, keeping the right side only. The reason is because the sky is pretty and I do not want to be distracted by too many rocks. And now being less cluttered, you’ll realize that the rocks magically align diagonally from the bottom right corner to that small gap (of splash). They form the leading line (another so-called photography rule) to direct your eyes to the horizon and sky. And then add some saturation to the sky, as you said.

    1. Cool! I will totally try that. I am up for experimental and really intrigued by your finding of a leading line using just the right side of the image.
      Thank you so much, for your comment. I will do a follow up post with these suggestions in mind, this is so helpful!

    1. I know, mine too, USUALLY. Not sure how that happened here, I think it is due to those beautiful rock stacks, I got focused on those instead of the bigger picture. I think it can be salvaged though, I have a couple new ideas, will share soon šŸ™‚ Thank you so much for your feedback, it means a lot!

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