Breaking a few photographic rules…

6 10 2012

I was inspired by National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson’s essay titled, “Let There Be Light,” where he discusses breaking photographic rules, in this case the one about overexposing highlights in a photograph. In breaking the “read the histogram to correct the blown-out highlights” rule, he captures an image that is ethereal and far more evocative than he would have created had he just followed the rules.

My photo of a gull ready to take flight breaks some other rules that I traditionally follow when photographing. I photographed this bird for several minutes before I got this shot and I considered it a throwaway when I viewed it on my screen. Later, I reconsidered saving it. The image has at least two things that immediately put it into the “not up to par” category: 1) you can’t see much of the bird’s head (just a tiny portion of the top of his head)—so much for focusing on the eyes to make them tack sharp, which is a top rule in bird photography, and 2) the motion isn’t stopped with a higher shutter speed, so the wings are extremely blurry. In the “plus category,” what’s good about this image is the composition (nice, off-center positioning gives it a dynamic that I must admit was not planned at the time), and the anticipation and tension of lift-off with the wings blurred in mid-air next to the tack sharp wood grain in the dock pylon. The gull is grounded yet I’ve serendipitously captured a split second before it will no longer be. It’s graphic with lots of negative space and there is ample contrast.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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4 responses

7 10 2012
ZielonaMila

Fantastic photograph, unusual view. I am greeting

7 10 2012
thekingoftexas

Ethereal? Evocative? Whut do them ‘air wurds meen! Just kidding—I know what they mean, and I agree that this shot is is worthy of both adjectives. I would like to see more of those—do it again, do it again! I suppose one could say that this bird is putting his best face forward.

7 10 2012
Tom Robinson

Cindy, at first, I dismissed your photo—as you admittedly did, too, but took at 2nd and 3rd glance, and discovered the contrast of the extremely focused post with the out-of-focused bird. All-in-all, it shows us that often our first impulses should be re-checked 🙂

14 10 2012
Steve Schwartzman

When things are moving, we sometimes take what we can get—which for me is sometimes nothing, especially if I don’t have an appropriate lens on the camera and there isn’t time to change. On the other hand, if we put ourselves out there often enough, unexpectedly good things sometimes come our way. And as you point out, sometimes a second look reveals that there’s more to a picture than we thought.

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