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November 30, 2009


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Joe Moffett

I think there may be a caveat with the maxim "Going with the flow is a euphemism for failing".

When going with the flow means following convention conventionally, then sure, you're not being outstanding, and you're going to be average - ie fail.

BUT ... going with the flow can also mean following the way you see life or a situation leading you. A particular photo can become outstanding because you went with the flow of the story, the subject, your understanding - dare I say it, the energy. And it may even (if you are tuned to see or feel this flow) seem the way of least resistance.

If you are going to become a true artist, then going with the flow in that sense is imperative (as you noted in your previous blog with your quote of the need to see what is really there).

Tom Beans

Re: [The Mindful Lens] Joe Moffett submitted a comment to Godin on Boundaries

Joe, thats an excellent point- thanks for making it. I wasnt totally comfortable with that statement either and your comment made me realize why. I think I meant that as more of the idea that yes, its ok to experiment and perhaps we should. Go ahead and make a blurry picture. Blow out the highlights. Block up the shadows. Simply- play! In a perfect scenario, I think you can tap into the flow and see as best you can while in the field and maybe play around with some of this in post-production in your software of choice. As you said though, unless that final result comes from being in the flow and yes, following that energy, its not much better than a technically perfect yet empty piece of art.


How might we beak some of the rules we've been taught?

Tom Beans

Well Andy, I think the main thing you can do compositionally is to get away from the Rule of Thirds. It has it's place and it works because it creates a balanced image that gives your eye an easy path through the image. By placing your subject towards the edges (and in a few cases dead center), you create more visual tension. By having some of your subject trailing out of the frame, or having a person look out f the frame, you force the viewer to wonder what it is they aren't seeing.

Another rule for landscape photographers is to shoot during the magic hours of early morning and late afternoon. This is true if you're creating color images but if you want to experiment with black and white, the middle of the days presents the best opportunities. Color images work at those hours because the softness and color of the light adds beauty and substance to your images. But black and white images work because of contrast. You need strong shadows to create that contrast so the middle of the day works best.

Another way to break the rules is to disregard your camera's light meter. In even light, most cameras will give you a decent, well balanced exposure. Use your exposure compensation to blowout some highlights or block up your shadows creatively.

If you're shooting digital, experimenting doesn't cost you a thing. Play with your exposures, your aperture, move your camera while the shutter is open, zoom in or out while the shutter is open. Whatever you think you shouldn't do, find out what happens when you do it anyway! It won't always work but occasionally you might be pleasantly surprised.

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