“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” – John F. Kennedy.
I have come across various schools of thoughts on different topics that some of them are now like widely propagated myths. Are these really myths or just my mind fighting against itself? Has the whole photography fraternity got it wrong and just a handful of photographers can understand the truth or is it me who is confused? Here is a list of top facts that I consider to be myths.
(Nikon Df with Nikkor 50mm, f/5.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 100, +2 EV compensation on center-weighted metering)
Top Myths in Composition
Is this a myth – The Rule of Thirds ?
This is a famous rule of composition.(Composition Rules – Part I) I do not know how and from where it originated but unfortunately it is now ingrained into even the best of the photographers. For beginners this can be a good starting point but making it a hard and fast rule? That’s a strict ‘no’. In fact I am quite skeptical about this rule itself. I have seen it enhancing many photographs but is that because I have been brainwashed into thinking that this is how it should be? I teach the beginners to follow this rule and then I teach the advanced photographers to break it. An irony!
Another one – Fibonacci Spiral ?
Fibonacci Spiral is another such rule which is closely related to this. The placement of main element in a composition as per the Fibonacci Spiral is quite similar to the rule of thirds. In Fibonacci Spiral the main element falls a little outside (towards the corner) compared to where the rule of third says that it should be. Once again, somehow the photographs with this kind of placement appeal to my mind, especially if the supporting elements also follow the spiral. Have I been unknowingly trained to appreciate this kind of arrangement? Decide for yourself. (Fibonacci Spiral and Photography)
What about – Don’t divide the frame in the middle?
This is what many photographers always preach. Thankfully, this is one rule that I have not been affected with, and can safely call it a myth. I compose in a manner which brings out whatever it is that I want to show. Even if the horizon or the road cuts through the center of the frame but looks good to me, it is fine.
(The frame is divided in almost the center by the road and shrubs in the lower part and the foggy sky and tall conifer in the upper half. The rule of thirds is also not followed and yet the photograph looks pleasing.)
Top myths in Equipment
Myth – Wide-angle lenses add character to portraits!
Wide angle lenses may let the photographer get close to the person and even capture some of the surroundings, however when it comes to good portraits, a short tele works the best. No, I do not even want to argue it. No normal lenses and for sure no wides can provide a pleasing close-up portrait. Some of the famous travel magazines do publish portraits with extremely wide angle lenses but these are always a part of a story or a travelogue. The foreground and the background also has a story to tell. Sometimes the close distance gives a feeling of being there. Still, if good quality close-up portraits are on your list, then get a good short tele. I prefer about 85-105 mm focal length on APS-C sensor cameras and 135-150mm focal length on 35mm sized sensor cameras.
Myth arising from consumerism – Professional cameras make better pictures than regular cameras
First of all, let me put this straight. There are no professional cameras. Photographers may be professional. Cameras are just cameras. They do not earn money or have a profession on their own. Users of these cameras may take up photography and earn money and as a result can be called professionals. Second, professional photographer does not mean a good photographer. Good and professional are two different adjectives and indicate two entirely different things. Now coming back to cameras, good reliable models with lots of features that advanced photographers may find useful, are now called ‘professional’ cameras. This is consumerism at play and the camera companies are making fools out of gullible consumers. The so called professional cameras may be a better piece of craftsmanship but when it comes to photography, it is the person who holds the camera, matters! Cameras are just the tools. Photographs are made by the people using the camera and not by the cameras on their own.
There are various other false perceptions that most photographers understand well. These are myths for non-photographers but in photography community, these no longer cause any discussions. We are clear about megapixels (Megapixels). These do not determine camera quality. Clicking raw is surely better than jpg (Post Processing RAW), regardless of what some famous people might say.