Monday, September 8, 2008

Stephen: Break This Rule!

Since the rule of thirds is largely about not putting lines, edges, and primary subjects in the dead center of the photograph, and was supposed to do just that, I decided to invent and follow a rule of halves. My camera's viewfinder has guides along both center lines, so lining thing up was not difficult. Making them not look dumb was harder.

This assignment was very open-ended. I could shoot anything I wanted in any way I wanted, as long as I centered things. At first, I thought architecture would provide good subjects, but as I mentioned in my previous post, my first set didn't turn out well. This is the one surviving photo from that set, after significant editing.

If you every get a great idea for a photo that involves creating shadows and lining things up in a complicated way, I have some advice: Don't. Setting up and shooting this photo took way too much time and effort. Unless you have a dedicated studio with the right equipment (and preferably an assistant), studio work is very difficult. It would have been way easier to fake this with the GIMP, and it probably would have looked better. I know the horizontal edge is not at the half-way point, but I tried it that way and it looked dumb. The mental line between the peach (that's a peach, by the way) and its shadow is at the center, so quit your whining.

I took the next five photos yesterday evening at Big Spring Park. The birds are really tame and not at all shy, so they made better subjects than a lot of people I know. The third photo doesn't follow my rule of halves as well as I would like, but the geese were lined up like that for only an instant. I used my clipping-correction method on the fourth picture to remove a cyan tinge from the sky.

As always, comments are appreciated.

Should we ditch rounds?

Here's the deal. We all have unique, unpredictable schedules. Even when we make time to shoot, something like weather may interfere or the photos may not turn out well. Working on a tight schedule is hard, especially when you aren't getting paid for it.

For example, last week I shot some photos downtown. I felt great about them as I was shooting, but once I got them back and uploaded them to my PC, I realized they were boring and actually bad. They looked like they were taken by someone who needed to learn the rule of thirds rather than by someone who had moved beyond it. Only one of them made my final set for the assignment (which I will post shortly) and then only after extensive work in the GIMP.

All of this is to say I am thinking about getting rid of the rounds. I don't think we need to do away with due dates, but if we don't have rounds, one person's delays don't affect other participants. It will make things more complicated once we have more than two people actively participating and we rotate whom is assigning whom, but I think we can keep up with it.

Here's how I see this working. Once someone posts a set of photos, his next assigner gives him his next assignment within a day or two with a due date about two weeks from the assignment date. The time period for the assignment can vary depending on the complexity and the photographer's schedule. This will require the assigner to check Google Reader regularly so that the photographer doesn't spend a week with nothing to shoot. The assigner should also be thinking of assignments ahead of time, so that he can post one quickly. The photographer should make every effort to meet the due date, but if he cannot, it will not throw off the whole system.

I like the way rounds keep things orderly and provide labels for grouping, but I think the flexibility afforded us by doing away with them is more valuable. What does everyone (photographers and readers alike) think of this idea?