Photography Rules

Photography rules are often mentioned in online forums by photographers who have experience in photography.  Just what are some of these rules?  Are they absolutely necessary to become a better photographer?  To find answers to these two questions, keep reading.

The rules are in reality more guidelines that have been found to work well by many photographers.  You may find more rules than what is written here in this blog entry.  Keep in mind that rules are made to be bent and even broken at times and in specific situations.

One of the rules (or guidelines) is the Rule of Thirds.  The image you create is best if the main subject is close to the intersection points of one third of your viewfinder (rather than in the center).  Often this rule is demonstrated by dividing a square box into thirds and a main subject is placed in one of the thirds (more often than not in the left or right third).  This rule works well most of the time, though can be changed to your preferences depending on the subject.

Histograms should look like a gentle rolling mountain and in the center, is often another often stated “rule.”  That isn’t accurate most of the time.  The histogram is a represntation of colors (red, green, blue), shadows, and highlights of one individual image.  If your image is black and white then your histogram may be on the right side and not resemble a gentle mountain.  The histogram is once again a guideline based upon specific conditions of an “ideal” photograph.  There are exceptions depending upon the light source used in creating the image, if you are shooting in color or black and white, and the amount of highlights or shadows in your image.

Another often stated “rule” is that you should always use a tripod.  This is a guideline and will depend on the subject and where you are taking the images. If you are indoors at a wedding or museum, a tripod may not be allowed.  Then you would have to use a faster lens (2.8 minimum fstop to start).  You can also use a lens that has IS (Image Stabilizer) or VR (Vibration Reduction), or another form of electronics that alllows you to handhold the camera in low light situations.  Tripods are or monopods are often used by wildlife and sports photographers in specific situations and settings; hiking into a location to photograph a sunrise or sunset, when using long telephoto lenses (300mm or larger), and when they are shooting on ground that isn’t flat or stable (such as a few feet in the ocean or on rocky terrain).

Rules (or guidelines) can depend on your subject, location you are taking the photos, and the lens you have available to you.  The important thing is to be aware of the rules, though use your own creativity and vision with those rules to create the image you enjoy.


About Douglas Wilks Photography

I am an advanced photographer who lives in western Montana. I create a variety of strong images using a DSLR, computer, and digital software. I am available for hire for full time, part time, or projects. Most of my images are of landscapes, still life, and events. I am always looking to improve my skills, network of friends and professionals, and portfolio. I look forward to creating new friends, contacts, and others who are interested in photography.
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