Thinking Outside The Box

A place to Dream

…Or maybe, more aptly, “inside the box”… but I’m getting ahead of myself…
It dawned on me the other day that I have been living life based on rules and regulations made by others for others. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against rules. Some rules are very important, even life saving. Rules like “Don’t drink and drive”, “Look both ways before crossing the street”, and “Never eat yellow snow” have gotten me through life safely this far. These are rules taught to me by my mother, rules I have passed down to my children, rules that I never questioned because they make sense.
Before I go any further I thought maybe I should define what a rule is. Well, there are several definitions according to the Merriam Webster online dictionary.

  • the exercise of authority or control
  • a regulating principle
  • a regulation or bylaw governing procedure or controlling conduct
  • a period during which a specified ruler or government exercises control

As far as I can see, they all about someone or something having control over someone or something else. Like I said before, some rules are meant to be followed without question. Things like traffic laws and the sign posted at the local swimming pool are there to protect the safety of the public, and in some cases, those rules exist because a life has already been lost.
Other rules are more like guidelines to refer to and then use your own best judgment. Usually your best judgment comes after you follow the rules and things have gone horribly wrong! Take for instance, the directions of the KD box. The instructions say to microwave on high power for 9 minutes, but they do add the disclaimer that not all microwaves output the same power and cooking times may vary. Good to know, because 9 minutes produced a mass of hard, crunchy, blackened mess that looked nothing like what my mom had prepared for me when I was little. It neither looked nor smelled appealing, but there was certainly no imminent threat of danger, unless of course I had decided to eat what I had created!
There are also unspoken rules that serve to keep the peace. Little things like waiting your turn in line. Next time, try cutting in line at the movie theatre on opening night of the new Star Trek movie and see what mayhem ensues!
Photography also has rules that are meant to be used as guidelines. I wouldn’t say that I consciously follow those guidelines because they are not first and foremost on my mind when I set out to shoot a landscape, but portrait photography is a little different. I have to be completely aware of the whole scene and avoid cluttered or busy backgrounds. Every detail matters, especially composition and framing. In this case, those rules do not bother me. In the end, I am trying to create something beautiful and I force myself to keep my senses alert. It is good exercise for the brain. For the most part, I would say that my work naturally stays within the set parameters, but in the end, if I like what I see, I take the picture. If it breaks a rule and I still like it, no harm was done and no loss of life was incurred.
One constraint of portrait photography that has encroached into my realm of landscape photography is the restrictions that are placed upon us by the printing and framing industry. The average consumer is forced to display their photos in a 4×6, 5×7 or 8×10 ratio because those are the most readily available frame sizes. But we are not restricted to those sizes. There are custom framing options out there for anyone who is willing to look and pay the extra. Some landscapes just work so much better when cropped to a 2.5 to 6 ratio, proving that in some cases less is indeed more. Removing the extra background draws your focus deeper into the frame, highlighting the subject and allowing you mind to linger and relax. The photo of the boats looked good at a 4×6 crop, but because of the fog, there was just so much of nothing and that I found myself “lost in the fog”. When I cropped the photo, it brought me back to how I experienced the scene when I was in Peggy’s Cove and took the photo. I can feel the ocean spray gently caressing my face, I can smell of the salt air, once again so crisp and fresh, I can hear the call of the sea birds as they drift serenely on the breeze, and I am transported back to that quiet moment, able to sit, relax and dream my cares away.

So join me in my quest to remove the ties that bind. Start thinking inside the box… but don’t be afraid to colour outside the lines! 


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