You can break the rules.

Really.

At least you can in photography because sometimes breaking the rules leads to pleasing results.

The key is to breaking the rules is knowing why you are doing so.

Here’s an example:


Rule: The bird must be in bright, direct light.


Allen’s Hummingbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in article: "You Can Break the Rules"

Allen’s Hummingbird, Male


In bright light, a hummingbird’s gorget acts like a mirror. Notice how it creates overexposed glare.

Also, notice bright direct light can cause shadows, such as under the gorget.

Here’s how to fix that:


Use Side Light


Allen’s Hummingbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in article: "You Can Break the Rules"

Allen’s Hummingbird, Male

Here, side light shows the character and brings out details in the gorget on this Allen’s Hummingbird.


Use Soft Shade


White-crowned Sparrow, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in article: "You Can Break the Rules"

White-crowned Sparrow

The subtle shades of brown become more apparent on this adult White-crowned Sparrow when it’s in soft shade.


Take Photos on Overcast (Cloudy) Days


Allen’s Hummingbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in article: "You Can Break the Rules"

Allen’s Hummingbird, Male

Here’s our friend the Allen’s Hummingbird on an overcast day.


In bright light, the gorget acts like a mirror, causing so large a dynamic range that it’s impossible to obtain proper exposure for both the bird and its gorget (see the photo below).

Allen’s Hummingbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in article: "You Can Break the Rules"

Allen’s Hummingbird, Male

Notice that bright, direct sun also creates shadows.

Shade, however, yields a smaller dynamic range that produces a perfect photo.


Final Thought

In art, most rules are actually guidelines. As such, they serve as starting points.

When opportunities warrant, however, it can be useful to break the rules.

Remember, your greatest freedom exists in your creativity.

So you are now free to break the rules.

Enjoy.


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