Learning to break the rules

The best piece of advice I got in college (photography related, that is) was that it’s much easier to produce good prints when you have a good negative – in other words, get it right the first time!  I took that advice and ran with it – I try to take good exposures in my digital photographs as well: decent detail in the shadows and trying not to blow out the highlights.

Now that I’m experimenting with a guilt-free digital camera (doesn’t turn out? no worries, delete it and try again) I’m starting to stray.  No one says everything in your photograph has to be perfectly exposed.  Shadows and light can add a mood that a perfectly exposed photograph doesn’t share.   And yes, I know all you experts already have this figured out – I tend to learn my stuff the hard way by experimenting.

I guess you could view this as an extension of my experimenting with light – I certainly can’t rely on the in-camera evaluative meter, so a lot of this is accomplished by chimping – i.e., checking the LCD display and histogram on the camera until I’m happy with the result.    Granted, I could probably change the light meter to spot meter instead of grabbing information from the entire photo, but then I’ll forget to change it back and destroy my nature shots because I meter for the bark of a tree instead of the forest.

This photograph is a good case in point – it’s something simple.  Not much of a subject in a normal situation, because it’s just ::drumroll please:: an onion.  Yup, a common yellow onion, courtesy of my local farmer’s market.  That’s another of my challenges actually: learning to see the stuff around me in a different way.  I get stuck in a nasty rut of assuming you have to be a “tourist” photographer – the only things worth shooting are the ones you travel to find.


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