Over the years, we’ve heard certain guidelines, maxims, and rules repeated over and over again by nature photographers. We've even repeated a few ourselves, before stopping to think, "hey, some of these have merit, but most don't." Here are 10 of our favorite “rules” that have little or no basis in reality. Go ahead and break them.
[ED. NOTE: While these entries are grounded in nature photography, many of them can certainly be extrapolated into just about any discipline.]
1. A good exposure has a bell-curve-shaped histogram.
Break it: The shape of the graph doesn’t actually tell you whether exposure is “good” or not, just how tones are distributed. For instance, proper exposure for a dark backlit scene, with just a fringe of light and very few midtones, will have a histogram that resembles an inverted bell curve.
Although you should generally avoid overexposure of highlights (a histogram bulky on the right side) and underexposure of shadows (bulky on the left), this isn’t always so. In that backlit scene, keeping the highlights from overexposing will likely give you a dark image with some shadows ending up as pure black.
This Photo: 1/15 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1600, expopsure compensation of -.3.