Rules to Explore

I’m going to share with you one of the most difficult photo assignments I think I have ever participated in.  In the second part of the Find Your Eye Course with Kat Sloma we are encouraged to explore the rules of photography that influence our work…then think of how some of those rules might be limiting our creativity.  

You have to know that first I had to Google the rules of photography.  
Yup. Didn’t really know what they were, so I had to look them up.  Then I had to think about them and look at how I have or have not applied these so called rules.

Using natural objects around the edge of a composition can help isolate the main subject.  This grape arbor leads your eye to the back door of an old house. Your eye is lead to the door, but you also notice the grape vines.

So, I did follow the concept of framing, but I used my own poetic license and made the frame more prominent.  

Then there is that ‘rule’ that says don’t point your lens toward the sun.

Rule broken…
I love to look right into that light and see what it does. This photo is aimed toward the sun outside after a rain, and the light is reflected in all the drops on the window screen.  Without that light this photo would be incredibly boring to me.

Normally I shoot without flash because I really like natural light. But I’ve learned that sometimes I just have to break my own personal rule (about not using the flash) and let it fill the space with light.

One thing I love about my DSLR is that I can adjust how intense that light is that comes from the flash. I have adjusted it ‘down’ a little so that it is not so bright. And here I see the details of my grandson untying my mom’s shoes (he has a thing for strings) and the flash filled in the light very nicely.

This photo of the three cottages may be breaking rules of composition, but I don’t care.  I love the colors, the architectural details, the sky and clouds, all of it.  Sometimes I just have to shoot a photo because I like what I see even if I don’t know why.

Then there is the rule of thirds, making a grid of lines in the image, 2 horizontal and 2 vertical, and placing your subject along one of those lines. These sailboats along the beach fit in that lower third of the image, so I suppose I have observed a rule here… but of all the rules I did not know, this one was at the top of my list. When shooting this I just knew I wanted the sailboats along the bottom of the image.  

In the digital photography world there are those who do not want to edit (or “photo shop”) their images, and those who do.  I’m in between. This shadow image of a bicycle has been rotated so that it is actually upside down.  Why? Because I like it that way.
The shadow of this bike just really looked cool to me, and as my friend Gayle and I were walking along (with our cameras, by the way) I just had to stop and capture this.  Editing photos, to me, is no different than working on images in the dark room with Grandpa. We cropped and shadowed images to get what we wanted. Now we just use software.

Using ‘negative space’ is a relatively new thing to me.  This photo of the sailboat may well show the rule of thirds, but it also shows that use of negative space…at least I think it does.
The space on the left is where the sailboat is headed, and I wanted to leave it open. Another view or rule is that it is good to balance a subject by having another subject in the image (in this case another boat on the left would work).  For this photo, I just wanted to show that the sailboat was heading ‘out to sea’.  (There go another couple of rules.)

Though I have already shared this image in an earlier post, it fits with this lesson.  I have only cropped a small amount off the lower edge of this. There were several mommy’s with their little ones around the kids pool and I didn’t want to add them to this. I was just drawn to the shape, color, and line of these umbrellas. 

Taking photos is something I do without thinking most of the time. Maybe I move around to get the right angle that I want, or play with auto focus versus manual focus, full auto mode versus fully manual, but I mess around until the image looks like what I saw with my heart.

And that is the key for me; seeing with my heart, through that lens, and sharing it here with you.

9 Replies to “Rules to Explore”

  1. Yep, you hit the nail on the head at the end: "Seeing with my heart, through that lens, and sharing it here with you." That's what creates our best work. Rules can help us, but rules can hurt us. Just make sure they aren't limiting your creative expression of your heart. I especially love that last photo – the color and the space in that blue sky really touch me in some way. From your heart to mine!

  2. Amazing what you can find with google, I think I read a lot of photography sites and books to learn what you summarized. You formulated that very well, "seeing with the heart…", it's so important to remember for a left brain oriented person.

  3. Deborah,

    Learning the "rules" of photography can help us understand why we like something or do it instinctively a certain way. But you have really expressed what is the key – shooting what we love.

  4. You can tell from your wonderful images that you "shoot from the heart" and you have a wonderful eye for natural composition!! I think my favorite photo is the bike shadow!! I love shadows!!

  5. I think you say the most inmportant at the very end – what you saw with your heart. For me that's the essential in photography. You can follow all the rules perfectly and still have a somewhat "heartless" picture. I don't think a lot when I take pictures – I pay attention to what it looks like and often I try different angles. But always it is the object that counts, what I want to express with that. And sometimes you just have to be fast and shoot the heck you can… I often just experiment, I get a lot of crap that way, but also really nice shots. That's the way to learn, I think.

  6. Hi Deborah,

    I never knew about the rules for photography. They were very interesting and fun to read your thoughts and see your pictures on each one. My hope is for one day to have the time to learn about my camera and how to take pictures as amazing as yours. For now though most of mine are just done fast to capture a moment before it's gone. Sometimes I get the best shots and others are just ok, but I'm both kinds make me happy.
    I have to say your photos always speak to me and make me feel something and I feel happy just coming here. You have a special gift my friend and I hope you always share this with us.
    Thank you for the birthday wishes on my blog, it's been a great day.

  7. This was so interesting, Deb.

    I love that you knew nothing of the rules and simply allow your heart to do the seeing. I'm all about rule breaking and seeing with the heart so this post totally resonated. It is clear by looking at your gorgeous photos that your heart is in charge.

    Thanks so much for sharing,


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