Category Archives: Rants

You Must Follow The Rules!

In Photography, there are a lot of rules, especially in portraiture. I used to be a strict rule follower. Never crop her at her feet! Place her at the exact thirds of the picture! Make sure her eyes are above the upper thirds! Make sure to get that catch light in her eyes! And so on.

Even though I followed those rules, I noticed pros who I admire rarely followed them.  I began to realize that the rules weren’t always to be followed. In fact, if the content is solid, the rules don’t matter. They’re  minor distractions.

Before, I would critique other photos based on those rules. I now cringe at the stuff I said. Nitpicking photos on those rules isn’t constructive. It’s just an ego booster. But that’s another post.

Other clueless photographers  critiqued me with those nitpicky rules as well. Over time, no matter how perfect I try to make the photo, someone has something irrelevant to say to boost their ego. I got tired of it and decided to just break the rules.

You Can’t Have Shadows In the Eyes, That is Unflattering

A common rule in portraiture is to have catchlight in the eyes. That is supposed bring soul and life into the eyes.  In fact, they hate shadows in eyes. They say it make women look unflattering. These girls look ugly don’t they?

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You Must Always Point the Face Towards the Light

In addition to the rule above, you should just have the model face the light. These images below are crappy since the light isn’t shone on the face.

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Don’t Crop At Fingers, Toes, Feet, Under Elbows, Tip of Heads, etc.

We all know the proper body cropping rules. Don’t chop off the limbs. But this is the rule that all top photographers break.

Honestly, if you control the contrast at the crop, it isn’t as bad. Also if the brightest part of the image draws the eyes away from the  crop, it’s okay too. Heck some top photographers blatantly do it. It’s like they don’t even know about this rule.

So here are my crappy images since I break cropping rules:

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The Eyes Must Be Razor Sharp

The eyes are the soul. You must focus on them and have them razor sharp.

I used to follow this rule pretty religiously. Lately, I’ve been lazy about keeping this rule. One reason is because I have heard one photographer  blurs his pics! You don’t need to have a super sharp picture. Would my pictures be any better if the eyes were razor sharp?

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As you can see, some of these break more than 1 rule. These aren’t the best photos I’ve taken. But I don’t think they’re that bad. Would they’ve been better if I followed the rules? I don’t know. Maybe.

Also, I know there are photographers out there reading this post cringing at my photos above. Oh well, I can’t win them all.

I’m not saying we should not follow the rules. I try to follow them most of the time. In fact, getting a good photo becomes easier when you follow the rules.   However, I will break them when it requires me to have the right expression, feeling, and emotion at that moment.

For Beginners: What Camera Do You Need? What Lenses Do You Need?

As a beginner, you get caught up in figuring out what gear to get. People usually say to get the best glass available. That is true. So one common thing I see in forums is beginners getting caught up in which set of lenses to get. They end up getting a couple of primes or a few zooms. That’s a lot of lenses just to get pictures of their kids, cats, and flowers.

What do they really need? Just one lens. Just pick one. I would recommend a something in between a 23mm and 50mm and stick with that for a year or so.

As for the body, it doesn’t matter. Anything that is at least a micro 4/3 or higher will do fine. 90% of the people won’t be able to tell the difference if it’s shot with a m43, APSC, or Full Frame sensor. Seriously, they can’t, unless you’re planning to print huge prints and paste them on your wall.

For camera bodies, it more about how it fits, the usability, and the style points. As long as it’s a modern camera, the IQ won’t matter much. They will all look similar.

Once you shoot in one focal length for about a year, you begin to realize what you need. I shot my X100 and X100s (the same camera basically) for a whole year. I realized I’m more into portraiture. So I wanted a longer lens. So I got the X-E1 and got the 35mm lens. Now I’m 90% content.

When the 56mm f/1.2 lens came out, I pre-ordered it. But I’m wondering if I really needed that  lens. I’m so happy with the 35mm, I wonder if I made the mistake getting the 56mm. Sure, it’s probably good for closeup face shots, but I do that anyway with the 35mm since the distortion doesn’t seem bad.  I’ll probably get it and see if it’s something I would want to keep. If not, I’ll just sell it.

Now, my X100s is my snapshot, food, travel, and do everything camera. My X-E1 is my portraiture camera. That’s all I shoot these days so I don’t need anything else.

Will I be able to shoot sports or wildlife? No, but it’s nothing something I need to do or interested in. So I have my gear set.

Here are some stuff I did with my year with the X100s:

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So as you can see, you can do a lot of stuff with just one body and lens.

Photographers and Their Websites

In most cases, I can tell if someone is a good photographer by looking at their Website. I don’t mean looking at their gallery, I mean looking at their actual Website.

To be a good photographer, you need a good eye. That means your eyes has to know what looks good from an artistic and design standpoint. If your Website looks like crap, then chances are, your photos look like crap too.

What makes a good Website? It needs to look good from the colors to typography. It has to be useable. It needs to be simple. It needs to be focused.

Also, with all the free, good-looking templates from Squarespace, Wix, and even WordPress, there is no excuse NOT to have a good looking photography site. It still boggles my mind when Photographers have Websites that looks like it’s from the 90’s.

Photographers, Why Do You Need So Much MegaPixels?

When fujirumors posted their rumor about the Fuji X-T1, people were complaining how it was “only” 16 megapixels. Why do these  photographers care about megapixels? I’m betting 90% of them only show their photos on the web. Heck, even if they print regularly, they don’t need that much megapixels. Do they have wall sized prints for all of their photos or something?

Most photographers need only about 8 megapixels. That would give them plenty of pixels to print, show off on their facebook, and still have enough room to crop the image if needed (okay, if you’re preparing for the 4k monitors, maybe you’ll need about 10-12 megapixels if you’re planning to view all of your photos at full screen).

There are a lot of benefits of lower megapixel cameras. One major advantage would be  smaller RAW files.  You wouldn’t need terabytes of space to keep your photos. With smaller files, the write times to cameras would be faster. The FPS would be faster as well. In fact, everything will be more responsive from loading your RAWs to Lightroom, writing to camera, transferring files back and forth, and so on.

Another advantage would be pixel density. Lower pixel density means better ISO and low light performance. Bigger pixels means better light gathering capability from the sensor.

So Fuji, if you’re listening, keep the X-T1 and your future mirrorless cameras at 16 megapixels. We don’t need anymore.  For future cameras, just keep improving the EVF so it will be clearer and brighter than any OVF can be. Keep improving ways we can manually focus with better focus peaking, split screen, faux prism screen, etc. Keep improving the AF, especially in low light. Give us real tethering capabilities in your cameras. And keep improving your sensors and make them even more awesome.