Richard Cook

University College London, Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (2)3.96 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Cropping is the central act of photography, the viewfinder of a camera being used to crop a portion of the visual world which is then surrounded with a frame. Six studies are described which show that the act of cropping is carried out reliably and confidently by both expert and non-expert participants. Two studies confirm that some croppers are better croppers than others, their cropped images being preferred aesthetically over the croppings of less-good croppers. Colour had little impact on cropping decisions, whereas thresholded monochrome images ('Mooney images') dramatically altered crop positions. That suggests that cropping can be driven top-down, by the meaning of objects in photographs, but the fact that the Mooneyised images are still cropped consistently, suggests that image structure, perhaps in the form of low-level image properties, may still be important. Experts crop pictures differently from non-experts, and they take longer, viewing a wider range of possible crops, pausing longer to assess crops, and using more formal terminology when reflecting on their cropping decisions. Experts' crops are not, however, preferred more, either by non-expert viewers or by expert viewers. Cropping, it is suggested, is an ideal paradigm for experimental aesthetics, allowing precise experimental control with Fechner's Method of Production, a technique which normally is not easy to use.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Perception
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    I. C. McManus · Richard Cook · Amy Hunt
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    ABSTRACT: Interest in the experimental aesthetics of rectangles originates in the studies of Fechner (1876), which investigated Zeising's suggestion that Golden Section ratios determine the aesthetic appeal of great works of art. Although Fechner's studies are often cited to support the centrality of the Golden Section, a century of subsequent experimental work suggests it has little normative role in rectangle preferences. However, rectangles are still of interest to experimental aesthetics, and McManus (1980) used a paired comparison method to show that although population preferences are weak, there are strong, stable, statistically robust and very varied individual preferences. The present study measured rectangle preferences in 79 participants, particularly assessing their relationship to a wide range of background measures of individual differences. Once again weak population preferences but strong and varied individual rectangle preferences were found, and computer presentation of stimuli, with detailed analyses of response times, confirmed the coherent nature of aesthetic preferences for rectangles. Q-mode factor analysis found two main factors, labeled “square” and “rectangle,” with participants showing different combinations of positive and negative loadings on these factors. However, the individual difference measures, including Big Five personality traits, Need for Cognition, Tolerance of Ambiguity, Schizotypy, Vocational Types, and Aesthetic Activities, showed no correlation at all with rectangle preferences. Individual differences in rectangle preferences are a robust phenomenon that clearly requires explanation, but at present their variability is entirely unexplained. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2010 · Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts