Breaking the Rules

comments 17
Abstract / Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography


October 11, 2019 — Seat 14 F, Somewhere Over Texas

Rules exist for a reason. Rules are normally based on how things work, perhaps with a measure of caution dialed on for safety’s sake. It’s good to know the rules. It’s better still to know how things work.

Following the rules without exception can lead to creative imprisonment. Knowing how and when to bend, break, or utterly ignore them altogether because you understand the underlying reasons for them — technical and aesthetic — allows you to throw the shackles off without killing your shot, and often making it even better.

Rule: It is not safe to enlarge bitmap images. Hmmmmm… Sometimes yes, sometime no. It is true that it’s difficult to enlarge very detailed images without mushing details. Actually, the latest version of Photoshop does pretty well and Topaz AI Gigapixel can sometimes do an amazing job — but even with these, details can and do suffer. But this image has no details to speak of to begin with, so it can be dramatically enlarged: it started as a tiny crop of about 1/200 of the original 20 megapixel image. Practically just a speck. The original crop was about 380 x 300 pixels at most. Now it’s 1800 x 1440 and it could easily go way larger.

Rule: Noisy images are undesirable. Who says? I didn’t use all the noise reduction I had at my disposal because I liked noise in this shot.

Rule: Banding is bad. Depends. Granted — banding across a pure sky does look pretty bad. But banding in this image was intentional, giving it a bit of an impressionist feel.

In the end, the best rule is what you can get away with.

(Canon G5X II. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 3.0; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

The Author

California based fine-art photographer featuring abstract, impressionist, and minimalist seascapes — near and distant — and floral-based images. Fine-art photography can be seen at All original images on this blog are copyright 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 Michael Scandling. All rights reserved. No images on this site may be copied, duplicated, reused, published, or re-purposed in any way without express permission from the copyright owner, Michael Scandling.


  1. You broke all the right rules, Michael. The image is excellent. However, I’m afraid I’m unable to bail you out if there are other rules you intend to break

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The question is whether an image produced by a photographic scofflaw strikes the viewer as having been made by a scoff-flaw.

    I see what you mean about the way the banding suggests an application of paint. I believe I’d still prefer a smooth gradient of grays.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. I’m going to live with it for a little while and then maybe take another pass at it. This is a situation where you get to know a particular shot and you see things that you didn’t originally see and take another step forward… this, in the previous post, were both similar exercises: carving out a tiny bit of an overall frame that actually has appeal and then bringing out the essence. The difference is, this is a much smaller crop. That made it also a technical exercise. How far can I stretch or outright break the rules and still have something worthwhile? And that’s the point of my text: an over-cautious instructor might say don’t go there. But there are times when you can. And should.


  3. I’m not looking at other comments but someone must have said this is painterly….there’s the look of the sky in a painting from a few hundred years ago here, and I think about reflections in hammered surfaces, too. You definitely made the roughness work for you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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