You can break the rules.

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.

Response: Yes, of course, unless . . . .


Allen’s Hummingbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in 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.


White-crowned Sparrow, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in 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.


Black-and-white Warbler, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in You Can Break the Rules

Black-and-white Warbler

It’s more likely that you’ll find a Black-and-white Warbler in shade than in full sun. That’s because they forage by going down a tree trunk.

I took this photo using Manual exposure. That way the bird would be properly exposed as it moved erratically from bright to dark backgrounds.


Allen’s Hummingbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in 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 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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