Monday, February 23, 2009

Photographic Rules - Think outside the box - Anne Girard

When you post an image on a photography forum, you immediately open yourself up to a variety of opinions, including to some who feel compelled to express their point of view as to what your and everyone else's image "should look like". They'll tell you to tone down the colors, crop it differently, decrease/increase the contrast etc... The photography "experts" seem to want to make sure we see the world through their eyes, use the same brand of cameras and go along with their philosophical rants on how one should approach photography.

Having benefited of being born in a democratic country, I've always valued freedom and I guess I have issues with suppression, something I also keep in mind when people come waving that flag called "photographic rules". It's interesting to see how people interpret a photo, as some consider the moment or emotional impact an image may have, while others prefer to get into that, fun...stimulating...yaaaawn...technical stuff. But to the techies credit, sometimes they actually have some valid points. After all, it's because of the mix between techies and artists that we have such diverse cameras to shoot with and styles of photography to appreciate.

Now maybe I'll offend a few people here, but to me folks who live and breath by photographic rules in my mind probably don't have much of a sense of humor, will report someone who leaves their car idling longer than 5 minutes in the name of the environment, and never use more than five squares of toilet paper at a time when they wi... You get the idea.
Don't get me wrong, photographic rules CAN guide you and in principle can help you take better pictures, but they can also steer artistic creativity down the toilet right along with those five squares of toilet paper. I mean, where would we be today if Elvis had kept his hips in check, if Alice Cooper and rock groups like KISS held back on their stage makeup, or if comedians stuck to politically correct jokes? In the art world, rules create restrictions and simply dull the senses.

If you want a good example of a rule doing just that, look no further than to a man's business suit. Years have gone by and still today, that look has about as much imagination as an army haircut, and is a prime example of rules created to meet an expectation. Women on the other hand have all kinds of creative avenues in which they can wear their clothes, but it seems if a man isn't an interior designer, a hairdresser or a musician, his clothes are likely identical to the guy standing right next to him.

Expectations often become subconscious rules in our minds and are obviously powerful, as we continue to see these same business people wear these suits to this day. This leads me to wonder how many people in the name of meeting expectations are holding back getting that funky haircut, or closer to the topic, processing some color or intensity in their pictures.

Now I ain't no hippy, or some bra burnin' rebel who wants people to break every rule and "give it to the man". I'm married to a military member and I understand the need for order. I'm also pretty lame when it comes to fashion but, that's a choice I make and not because I follow fashion rules. When it comes to photography, I encourage people to bend, break or ignore rules altogether in the name of artistic freedom.
Unless you're a photo journalist, you can allow yourself to take a deep artistic breath again, free yourself of guilt and let your photo editing software take you outside the box.

I would suggest to anyone who is planning to post their first picture on a forum, to read and learn from fellow photographers. However, consider people's opinions, don't live by them.

Photographic rules are meant as guidelines and not meant to stifle creativity.

Expand your artistic bubble

Open your mind

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Missed opportunities? not with your Point and Shoot (P&S) - Anne Girard

It's no secret to people who use a P&S how convenience and portability plays a key role as to why we bring it along instead of the bulkier dslr. There was a time when a dslr was the only way one could achieve "kick ass" images as the limited performance of a smaller sensor and features on a P&S meant missed opportunities more often than not.
It wasn't to say you couldn't get nice images with the smaller cameras, but there were many limitations.

Having spent quite some time on DPReviews' Panasonic forum, you quickly realize how that has changed. With the features and performance of a P&S making significant leaps forward over the last few years, even the hard core DSLR users are realizing a P&S is a great addition to one's photography arsenal.

I presently have three cameras, The Panasonics G1, FZ28 and the LZ7. For some time I shot with the Canon 30D and a couple older Nikon DSLRs. Other than using my DSLRs for work purposes, I would usually leave those cameras at home as they were too much to carry around and I was also concerned with theft.

But there are still those people out there, who have this belief that if their images aren't captured with a dslr, than the image is sub-standard and that somehow it doesn't measure up to a "real" dslr photo. But few people who bring their cameras wherever they go are carrying DSLRs and for good reason.

Panasonic FZ20

So why does a dslr user eventually jump on the P&S bandwagon? I think it's for different reasons...convenience, bulk, fear of theft, but most of all, missed opportunities. How often have we said "I wish I'd brought my camera" after missing of one life's special moments. When you think about it, when you see someone with a dslr, they tend to be on the lookout for pictures, and that's fine as I've done done it myself.
But with a P&S, you tend to be prepared for moments that come to YOU, and have the ability (and the camera) to nail those moments when they do. Hence the ability to "pull out and shoot" that shot you would have previously missed out on because your "pro gear" was sitting at home.

Taken with Sony H2

Now, I'm not saying you can replace the dslr altogether (at least not yet:)), nor am I implying you can get the same image quality with a razor thin compact. But if you take a close look at the available cameras on the market, whether you choose something new or used, it's likely there's a camera that will suit your needs. And remember, a little bit of processing can go a long way to punch up that image.

Below are random images I've taken with varying point and shoot cameras. Although I've also been a dslr user, I've always carried and appreciated the role the point and shoot can play for the photographer, as the fun factor and always being prepared means we capture life without having to watch it pass us by.

Olympus C-5050

Panasonic FZ30

Sony H5

Sony H5

Panasonic LZ7

Sony H5

Sony H5

Panasonic LZ7