Sunday, January 29, 2012


Exploring your rules.


Like everything else, photography has rules, and this week's photo journal prompt is to address the picture-taking rules that have been drilled into my head and discover how they may be inhibiting my artistic growth.

 I think of the main areas in composition-rule of thirds, subject not in the center, keep it simple;not too busy.

This past weekend, I was shooting photos at the beach  but when later viewed them on the computer, I made changes because  the "rules" told me I should not have my picture look like that. Others I deleted because they were "too busy."  I did not want to keep these photos only because they were wrong-according to the rules.

Too busy, centered focus , not divided into thirds
But I like it!

The photo on the left is the original, but the tree is centered.      
The cropped version on the right lost some of the scenes, just so the tree would be out of the way. I like the original better and feels more spread out and relaxed. So what if the tree is in the middle? The palm fronds splay out like an umbrella and seems to encompass the entire scene.

I wanted the rock as my focal point when I composed this photo but  did not follow the "Rule of Thirds." 

When I cropped to make it fit the rule, I lost both the rock and the focus on it's striations. 

The photo below also breaks all the rules but it's one of my favorites from the batch. Centered, yes, but it's balanced. Busy, yes, but I wanted to capture all the colors and ambiance of the scene. No rule of thirds -unless you count color - (yellow, green and blue)

 Doing this assignment brought on a flash-black from childhood. I was in third grade and the teacher ridiculed me in front of the class, because I was trying to color my flowers in a non-traditional color. That incident helped to squelch any artistic talent I may have had.

Guess I'm a late bloomer.


  1. Barbara,
    I liked the photos that you chose to illustrate your points. The flower shot at the end is beautiful. I don't find it too busy. I see what you were trying to show - all the color, all the beauty.
    The shot where you show the large rock with the striations in it looks to me, without you realizing it, to have followed the rule of thirds anyway! To me I can break the photo in 3 sections. The bottom right with the rock, the center with the darker rocks, and the top left with the blue water. Obviously not perfect thirds, but I think that subconsciously you knew what looked right and why. I agree, the shot without the large rock is just not as interesting. But I do think that your eye knew how that shot should be taken! Good job. (And don't you just hate the way that events in our past can shape how we think and feel many years later! You have definitely found your creative side again!)

  2. Hello Barbara, it's really interesting to read what you have to say about the rules in photography you have followed and how you now listen to what you really want to do, rather than stick to rigid rules.

    I just love that picture overlooking the beach (with the palm tree in the middle) because of the feeling of spaciousness... not being closed in my anything.

    Finally, rules are there to be broken! Or maybe it's a case of breaking free of ideas and just following our heart without 'thinking' about things.

  3. Hi Barbara,
    You definitely know all the rules and I think that you revealed some good points in this post - we don't have to follow those rules exactly to get good results and a change in cropping can really change the whole feel and intent of a photo! I like the rich color in your last shot! I do like the first image, too and wonder what the scene would look like in B&W?? It seems to have an interesting value arrangement for B&W. A thought :)

  4. Excellent study of the rules, how they've been affecting you, and where they come from. It's interesting how our life experiences are brought to our art. You did a great job of sharing some of the reasons to break the rules. In all of these cases, the "rule following" crop did not make the images stronger, but less interesting. In your first photo, I see the lines of rocks as the focal point, not something that would easily follow the rule of thirds anyway. Your last photo of the flowers is wonderful, the color and focus on the flowers makes the image pop while you captured the context in the background. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

  5. Am SO enjoying reading these posts, and learning. Great examples, AND photos!

  6. I don't know the rules that well. I know they exist, so thank you for all that you share. I love your flowers shot, so much color, I don't care if it's right or wrong: it's beautiful! congrats

  7. There are all sorts of ways to apply the "rule of thirds." You are doing great! Keep playing and experimenting and enjoying your journey! Your photos show your connection and interaction with the scene, and that is special. Love your flowers at the end.

  8. Hi Barbara,
    I think there are times when you need to center the object or person. I also love the flower shot...not too busy at all. I really liked the first one with all the rocky shore showing! Changing the rules are fun and cropping photos differently is what I like about photography. For me that's part of the creative process. Angela

  9. Barbara, I think all of us are rule breakers, because we are artisits. Whew, can't believe I included myself as an artist but we are! And I don't think there are very many artists who follow the rules all the time. I agree with the others, you did a great job using your photos to go with your writing. I really like the palm tree that looks like an umbrella - I would like to be sitting under it right now.

  10. Yay! For breaking rules! Sometimes coloring outside the lines works best. Love the pictures!

  11. Hi Barbara, I like how you gave examples of how trying to have some rules fit didn't work. I love your last photo, I think the composition is nice, and the colors are wonderful!

  12. hehe. Rules are there to be broken, and when you break 'em right you get a great result. ;-)

    Love the beach shots!

  13. hi barbara i like your post about composition cause i'm a bit of a stickler for it but you have shown with your palm tree image that rules should be broken, i can feel the space in the original image. I should try breaking this one more often! Thanks for your inspiration.

  14. Isn't it amazing how just changing the setting of something in a picture can totally change it.
    I think sometimes we just know what we like and it may not fit the rules.
    I really love your flower picture and all those beautiful strong colours.


I would love to hear from you!