Put Experimentation To The Test

Put Experimentation To The Test

Every time you bring the camera to your eye, apply the many compositional rules that apply to art. But the word “rule” means one should abide by them. Herein lies the dilemma. What if breaking the rule makes the photo better or provides a unique twist? What if you simply feel like breaking a rule? I say, good for you. Go out and experiment. Think back to your high school science class when it was experiment day or you had lab time. Things would go up in smoke, turn different colors, make loud sounds or disappear. The immediate reaction was always a resounding WOW. Bring that feeling to your photography and create some WOWs of your own. Break the rules and experiment.

RULE: Don’t Aim A Wide Angle Upwards—It Creates Distortion. Fact—The wider the angle, the more distortion it creates if it’s not perpendicular to the subject. This being the case, take advantage of the distortion to create a unique perspective. Get close to a foreground subject to exaggerate its size, skew the camera as much as possible and exploit the falsified look. The foreground elements will lean, bend and may take on a barrel shape depending on how wide a lens is used. Incorporate framing into the composition to make a connection between the subjects. Intentionally underexpose the background and add flash to the foreground element to make it more prominent. Experiment and create a WOW.

RULE: Make Pictures With The Sun To Your Side Or Back. Fact—If you shoot into the sun, the light is contrasty and shadow detail is lost. Additionally, camera meters can be easily fooled, so it’s difficult to get a proper exposure. This being the case, make photos of subjects where blocked up shadows have no bearing on the outcome of the photo, and don’t worry about tricky exposures as meters in today’s cameras are programmed to ignore bright highlights. Besides, it’s digital and the results can be compensated for on the spot. Look for great silhouettes, colorful sunrises or sunsets, patterns that reflect the light and reflections of key compositional elements. Watch the nuances of how the light changes. As it decreases in contrast, make more images. Experiment and create a WOW.

Put Experimentation To The Test

RULE: Use The Rule Of Thirds. Fact—The rule of thirds dates back to the Renaissance painters, and it certainly worked for the masters. It evolved into photography because it works. This being the case, if you adhere to it ALL the time, you’ll never know if a composition can be improved if you ignore it. What's frequently heard is never center a subject. It becomes static and no movement is depicted. The majority of the time, this holds true. If you place the primary subject in one of the power points, a pleasing composition is the result. But I encourage you to investigate all options. I’m often heard saying, “Exhaust All Possibilities.” The next time you head into the field, deliberately center the main subject but also place it within the rule of thirds. Compare the results when you edit the pics. If you already have tons of images on your hard drive, open some and crop the photo so the subject is dead center. Did it improve any? The answer may be no, but you’re guaranteed to never find out unless you try. Experiment and create a WOW.

Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.

Photography is what motivates me to move through life in a positive way. Photography is ͞All About The Light͟ and it’s the first thing I seek out before I press the shutter. Optimally, I pursue great subjects in great light, but if there’s an ordinary subject in great light, I still press the shutter. I love to share the photographic knowledge I’ve accumulated and I hope my enthusiasm is contagious so I can motivate others to feel the same way I do about my photography.


    Russ, the Tourist Bureau for the Northern Territory of Australia has a very catchy motto, based around the fact that one of the most famous books ever written about the Territory was called “The Never Never Land”. Their advertising always includes their brand motto – “You’ll never never know, if you never never go!” And having lived there for several years, I can assure you it’s true – definitely a place with extraordinary things to see, something you could never know without going there.

    And it affected my thinking, years ago. So I pay attention to the “rules” – I treat them as common sense, as guidelines – and then I plunge in and do my own thing. Sometimes inside the “rules”, sometimes outside them. Example – I do sometimes shoot into the sun – contre jour can be an art form! More often, I am urged to avoid the “harsh light” of the middle of the day – and instead, I use it to create an image that isn’t possible in the other time slots through the day – I live closer to the equator than a lot of the commentators, so this “harsh light” is more of a life style thing for me, and if I can’t capture what I see and live in, 24/7, 365 days of the year, what sort of photographer am I? I do appreciate softer lighting – I just don’t often have it, and I make the best of what I have. (I also love available light photography at night – just to invert this completely!)

    “If I never never try, I’ll never never know!” Sometimes I rein myself in during PP – sometimes I chuck the result – sometimes it’s a keeper. Critics aren’t invited – I have no “clients” – I like what I am doing – life is always, and has always been, a constant learning process – and this is all part of the process, for me.

    And anyone else is free to do their own thing. Quietly, if they go beyond “sharing” and start with “opinions”.

    Jean – “You’ll never never know, if you never never go!” GREAT motto. The expression, “Think outside the box” had to come from somewhere. I can only image how much would be missed if nobody thought OUTSIDE the box. I’m sure it’s lead to valuable inventions and also lots of great art. Continue to live by your country’s motto! More people need to do this…………

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