As is

I often come across feathers on my walks, and I usually do stop to take a picture (or ten), but rarely find my photos of much interest afterwards, from a compositional point of view.  This particular feather, however, scattered among several others, seemed so fluffy and bright.  This and the others are (were) quite small… only a few inches long.  I didn’t pick them up or move them.  In fact, this is often the challenge I give myself when photographing things on the ground.  I take the shot as is, no moving things around or rearranging to “improve the scene.”  I don’t know why I’ve made this rule for myself, but it seems to have worked its way into my way of  doing things.  What about you? Do you impose completely arbitrary rules on your creative process?  Should I stop this madness?

14 responses

  1. Hi Lemony! Wow! (again). Just keep doing what you’re doing! With a body of work like this you should have your own show.

    What’s your workflow? How do you get your pics up so quickly? Are you using a photo editor like Lightroom? Are you posting anywhere else, like Flickr?

    January 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    • Hi, Irene. Thank you so much for your encouragement! This is very high praise coming from a pro like you! (BTW, if anyone is following comments, check out Irene Liebler and Sandy Connolly’s blog at I am still very much a beginner and have so much to figure out. I am basically trying to get out there as much as possibly can (4-5 times per week) and try, try, try and try some more. I’m someone who enjoys practice, so I make sure I get a lot of it.

      Poupie introduced me to Lightroom a few months ago, and I have started using that to organize my photos. I have a Mac, and so was using iPhoto before, so it’s been hard to tear myself away from the intuitive ease of using that. But I do see the benefits of Lightroom for organizational purposes. I am making my way very slowly through Scott Kelby’s book on Lightroom, but am still in the section on “Library,” so have a lot to learn about it. I’m very eager to get to the “Development” sections, because I know how much potential there is for Lightroom: I’m only using the tools very minimally for post-processing at this point, because I haven’t had time yet to figure out much beyond the basics in that program. I am not posting my photographs anywhere else publicly, but do use Shutterfly for some personal and family blogs. Thanks for your questions! I’ll be tuning in to your blog. I’d love it if you’d offer some tips to beginners like me! Something I find so incredibly stunning about your photographs is the lighting (well, and the composition, too, but something about the exposure and illumination of your subject is particularly warm and “real.” I’d love to know what you’re doing to achieve this.

      January 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm

  2. Guy


    I think arbitrary rules are part of the creative process, where it starts I don’t know maybe walking to school when we (at least) tried not to step on the cracks in the sidewalk. I do enjoy your blog and I wanted to let you know I have added your blog to my links.

    Lovely photo.

    All the best.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    • Hi, Guy! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for offering such a wonderful comment. I will now always think of your point about not stepping on the cracks in the sidewalk when I feel myself enforcing one of my arbitrary rules, and now I’ll SMILE about it… I still to this day avoid cracks in the sidewalk:-) Thank you for adding my blog to your links. I’ve just taken a look at your lovely blog (I need to step outside of WordPress more often!) and am going to add you to my Blog list. So glad to make your acquaintance!

      January 25, 2012 at 7:42 pm

  3. This is the good point of the whole thing, to take a picture the of the subject as it is at the moment we find it and make that instant last to share with others. I found that moving things around is good for composition at times but i always go back to the first shot, the one when things were untouched.
    Beautiful picture. 🙂

    January 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    • Thank you, Francis. I feel affirmed in my application of the rule. I see that it’s actually not a rule of my own making, but that others are using it as well.

      January 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

  4. NOOOO keep it going….I very rarely do any ‘image gardening’….if its there I’ll take it but won’t create it

    January 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    • Okay, got it! As I was just telling Francis, I feel affirmed now in my enforcement of “the rule.” By the way, I love this expression “image gardening”!! I’m going to have to borrow that one for sure!

      January 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm

  5. Don’t stop Melanie!
    I rarely re-arrange the things so that they look better; i just try to find the right angle without moving anything at all.
    This feather looks awesome, its like really magical!
    Great shot Melanie.

    January 25, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    • Thanks, Pablo. I appreciate the support! It’s great to know I’m on the right track.

      January 26, 2012 at 2:34 am

  6. I like the feathery image very much.
    I don’t a have a rule, but if there’s something I don’t want in the frame, I:
    – recompose to eliminate it (often get closer)
    – find an angle that eliminates the unwanted stuff
    – garden the scene, usually remove foreground stuff

    One time I was taking a picture of a waterfall and later found a soft drink can in it later. I’d rather remove the trash from the scene than alter the image by cloning later. Same goes for little bright things (leaves, specks) that you can remove from the scene before you click.

    January 27, 2012 at 1:30 am

    • Thanks, Tom! I appreciate your input. This is a helpful list. I can definitely understand eliminating trash from a scene in advance of taking the shot. Hope you were able to cut out the soft drink can later and still preserve a nice image of the waterfall in your case.

      January 27, 2012 at 1:44 am

  7. One rule that I set for myself and have mostly adhered to in my nature blog is to show photographs that are free from signs of human intrusion. One exception came on July 4 last year, when I used my birthday as a pretext to show a picture that had human elements in it. And this fall, when swarms of grackles congregated on power lines in my neighborhood, there was no way to get good pictures of the birds without showing some of the power lines.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    • I think that I’ve been following the same rule in the great majority of my nature shots. I just took a look at your two links, and think that you had good reason in both cases to make exceptions!

      January 28, 2012 at 12:38 am

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