The Photographer's Decalogue
Page 1 of 1. Version 1.0, ©2008 by Dale Cotton, all rights reserved.
Given unto men is love of the gadget, not least of which hath been the camera, whose knobs and dials hath multiplied ceaselessly, providing unto all men an endless delight. Given unto women is the infallible aesthetic sense, such that no colour shall go uncoordinated nor any room be imperfect in decour. Labouring under the burden of this paradox, for long years and weary decades hath men struggled to use their beloved cameras to take pictures that did not offend the eye. Out of this mighty struggle, little by little, didst men glean a Rule here, a Principle there, each of which didst do its small part to reduce the gnawing feeling of aesthetic uncertainty lurking in every male photographer's breast.
Now the new millennium hath arrived and with it the final pieces of the puzzle have fallen together to form a most glorious whole. Therefore, be ye free now, ye Male Photographers, of every anxiety and fear. Simply follow these Commandments and thy every exposure shalt be good:
- Thou shalt faithfully reproduce Nature in all its glory; for this is a sacred trust. Even to remove a discarded beverage container shall count as sin.
- Thou shalt follow in the footsteps of thy fore-photographers; for the location of all the most glorious compositions hath already been revealed.
- Thou shalt obey the Rule of Thirds and maketh thy measurements good even unto the fourth and fifth decimal places; for this is the Law.
- Thou shalt give unto every picture a clear Centre of Interest. Complexity cometh from the Devil; but simplicity is the Law and the Profits.
- Any picture may be improved by judicious cropping.
- There is no such thing as too many megapixels. Yet any picture, no matter how meagre its megapixel count, may be enlarged indefinitely. Therefore, go forth and up-sample, for it is good.
- When in doubt, desaturate; for other colours may clash but never shall shades of grey. When not in doubt, saturate with great abandon, for Velvia is a heavenly thing. Do ye these things not withstanding the First Commandment; for mysterious are the ways of the Law.
- Thou shalt never blow a non-specular highlight; for dynamic range is also a sacred trust. And conversely never allow any shadow to reach blackness before its time cometh, lest in darkness ye stray from the Light.
- The eyes of thy subjects must ever be in focus and show a true glint; for the eye is the window of the soul.
- Finally: keepeth thee thy mats white, thy frames black, and let thy gallery lighting be a little too weak to see clearly by, lest even an hour from the lifespan of any print be lost, no matter how humble an image it may be.