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What are your photography taboos? Are there things that you just won’t do to a photograph?

I thought about this over the weekend while watching Trey Ratcliff’s latest photography tutorial (review coming soon). During one of the segments, the topic came up about taking a sky from one photo and using it in another photo. The reason for it was pretty simple. Sometimes you’re at a beautiful scene and the sky just sucks. There are no clouds, or perhaps it’s a boring, overcast sky with no depth, texture or emotional impact. We want our photos to look their best, but nature doesn’t always comply when we’re at the great scene.

A Couple of Photography Taboos

Trey mentioned that’s something he never does. He said the same thing could happen at night where you put the moon in each night shot. Where does it end? Is the sky sucks, change your composition so it’s less than 5-10% of the image. People will accept a sucky sky in a small part of the photo. That’s a concept I’m going to test below.

Bald skies are uninspiring, but sometimes that’s just what you get. Do you crop them out or do you replace the sky with a shot from a different photo?

With that in mind, I know some photographers are against cropping.  Moose Peterson mentions now and then that he doesn’t crop his photos. He isn’t telling anyone else that they shouldn’t crop their photos, but this is his photography taboo. Based upon what I’ve heard him say, I believe it’s due to his sense of professionalism as a photographer and his desire to get it right “in camera.”  Nothing wrong with that goal at all. That doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, though.

I tend to like using a 16:9 crop for my finished photos. Since my camera doesn’t produce that size, I have to crop. You could say it’s an artistic choice.

For those who work in journalism, they have a lot of taboos about photo manipulation. Although I understand the logic behind those photography taboos, I also think there’s a bit of silliness involved. That’s because the result straight out of the camera doesn’t really represent reality. Still, they’re creating historical records and reporting events. Most of them don’t wish to be seen as biased by manipulating the photos. Instead, they manipulate by choosing which photos to show.

As I’m not a journalist, my photos are from my own little universe. I have no problem manipulating them as I see fit. It’s pretty rare that I replace a sky (because it can be a real pain to do), but I don’t have any objection to compositing. You can bet that I adjust colors and use content-aware tools to remove ugly bits. I’ll crop, stamp, bend, fold, spindle and kick my photos as I please before I show them here.

Since today is the last day to file your taxes here in the USA, I thought it appropriate to crop, stamp, bend, fold, spindle and kick something from the federal government for today’s photo. Here are your tax dollars at work at the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Photography Taboos

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