Breaking the Rules
(Photographic Rules, that is)
There are many common rules for photos. And most of them are worth breaking! This photo is an example of at least ONE broken rule: “Don’t put your horizon in the middle of the photo.” That’s generally true, but in this case, I envisioned a mirrorlike effect on the small lake with the Chicago Skyline in the background reflected on the relatively still water. That necessitated the horizon in the middle, as far as I was concerned! Heightens the effect even though it broke a rule.
Same scene…taken from a vantage point about 50 yards from the other photo…and taken earlier, before sunset. Same lens (standard, 50mm). Same camera. Note that the horizon is in the middle on this one, too! “Oh no,” you may be thinking!! But I did that consciously because I felt that the buildings and the couple with the bike made up two separate scenes and I liked the way the horizon served to emphasize that difference. It’s kinda like they’re sharing the same frame, but are kept separate by the horizon. I think it makes your eye go back and forth between the two parts of the photo.
NOTE: After I took this photo, I approached this couple and told them I had just taken their photo and hoped they didn’t mind. I told them I wasn’t soliciting or trying to sell anything, but that I would gladly send them a copy of the photo if they wanted if they would give me one of their e-mail addresses. They smiled back, looked at each other, and kindly deferred. Oh well…
By the way, I’ve heard that taking photos of people in public places is not breaking a rule (though don’t take that as a verified legal opinion!). But, I still like to engage with people I photograph as much as I can or, as in this case, offer them a copy.
I like this photo a lot. First of all, it’s starring Charlie, our youngest grandson, who was staying at our house for a few days. We had lunch in Lake Forest and we kept seeing trains go by, and that caught his interest! Especially since he was carrying and using our binoculars. So, when were safely across the street, behind the gates, on the walkway, AND when there were no trains within view (using the binoculars to check and be sure), I quickly asked him to stop on the manhole cover and I took this photo. Luckily, things lined up even better than I had hoped! But, I broke two photographic rules! I used a 24mm wide angle lens (which is not supposed to be used for people shots) and I placed Charlie smack dab in the middle of the photo (with all the converging lines around him. C’mon…that was a no-brainer to break those rules!
The thing that I’ve learned about photo rules is that it’s good to KNOW what they are and adhere to them. But, it’s also good to know when to break them.
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Stephen M. Levin
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