The Outsider – Photography in Algoma

Breaking Some Photography Rules

Updated: By James Smedley

As a general rule photographers are told to shoot with the sun at their backs. This ensures that the light is cast upon our subject and our image is exposed correctly. It’s a rule that should be adhered to most of the time. For instance, when taking a picture of a group of friends, we want their faces to be well-lit and properly exposed. While we should know the rules and follow them, we should also realize that there are times when rules should be broken.

Shooting into the light will usually result in the underexposure of an image, meaning the subject in the image will be darker than expected. In some cases, this can be a good thing. In fact, manually under-exposing even further can put our subject in silhouette – resulting in colourful, dramatic images, especially when shooting into the setting sun.


Photo credit: James Smedley Outdoors

Under exposing the subject allows the photographer to freeze the action and at the same time highlight the rich colours of the setting sun.


Photo credit: James Smedley Outdoors

Shooting into the sun through the early morning mist creates a sleepy mood supported by the stretching angler.


Photo credit: James Smedley Outdoors

The moon is also a source of light that we can use to break the rules. Here we shoot into the moonlight to get a starburst effect.

Pointing our camera into the light is not always the way to go but it can result in some strong and dramatic images.

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About James Smedley

Professional photographer and writer James Smedley’s contributions - more than 400 written pieces and close to 1,000 images - to U.S. and Canadian books, magazines and newspapers have earned him over 40 National and International awards. In addition to teaching photography workshops, James is Travel Editor at Ontario OUT OF DOORS Magazine. James has fly fished for brook trout and arctic grayling in far northern rivers and continues to cast for trout, bass and steelhead near his home in the northern Ontario town of Wawa where he lives with his wife Francine and daughters Islay and Lillian.

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