Saturday, January 19, 2013

Breaking "Rules"

Don't center your subjects!  Get Closer!  Use the rule of thirds!  Don't put the horizon in the middle of the frame!  Don't have people looking "out" of the frame!  Don't cram things on the edges!

If you have ever taken an introductory photography course, or read an introductory photography book you have heard these rules.  They start as soon as start the discussion on composition.  This is usually after they spend 3/4ths of the time/space allotted on how to use a camera, which may become a writeup for another day.

The "rules" can help.  But, doggedly following them can also lead to boring and predictable pictures.

Even though some books and classes tell you the "rules" are only guidelines, they don't do a very good job of helping you understand why they exist in the first place.  If they did, we would gain the confidence to break them in useful ways earlier.

If you've read many internet forums, you have probably heard other rules.  Except they aren't really presented as rules or guidelines.  They are generally presented in the context of putting down other peoples' work.  One of my favorites is "no selective coloring!" -- it creates no end of cliché insults being shared.  What is selective coloring?  It is having one piece of an otherwise black and white image left in color.  People put it down as being somewhat kitsch, or "old fashioned"-- it was used early on in the film to digital transition.  People felt it was "neat" and it became very easy to do.  I tend to agree with the criticisms, but mostly because color immediately draws your eye.  Most of the time I see selective-color used it doesn't seem to be to add "meaning" to the subject on the image.  It may even detract from it.  For example: if it is done to color the bouquet of flowers in bride's hands it takes away from her face, or to color a ribbon on a dress it drags attention away from faces, etc.

I have never really done one of these before.  But, I tried it to make new profile picture. It fit my idea. I tend to obscure my face in those through shadow and light on purpose -- and I had another, specific, message in mind.

Go Ravens. 

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