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Would something horrible happen if I broke the rules?

I ask myself that question almost every time I take a photo. What sort of mess might possibly occur if I alternately break the photographic rules of exposure, composition, or focus?

I know the rule of thirds, the rule of odds, filling the frame, leaving space — the traditional guidelines of good picture-taking.

The truth is, I’m a haphazard photographer.  I’m shockingly inept at the mathematics of exposure, shutter speed, aperture setting and know just enough to produce some happy accidents.

I rely more on gut instinct and feel; less on carefully calculated outcomes.

This approach doesn’t win any photography awards to be sure, however it inspires me to create — free from the shackles of dogged perfectionism.  Each risky image is, for me, a psychological triumph.

Eye of the Beholder is my new monthly photo feature showcasing the often surprising results of my experiments.

Thanks to a worldwide readership for following my previous photo series, Scene on Queen

I hope you enjoy Eye of the Beholder and the simple stories behind the images.

Your comments are always welcome! (click on photos to enlarge)

Santa Monica Pier - 2012

Santa Monica Pier – 2012

Story behind the image:  The famous Santa Monica pier is a large double-jointed pier located at the foot of Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica, California.

It’s a prominent, 100-year-old landmark with rides, games, restaurants and shops, and in fact, is the West Coast’s only amusement park located on a pier.

The location has been photographed endlessly from every possible angle and in every conceivable light.  I took this photo while on vacation during the summer of 2012.

It was a crystal clear day — the mountains, an eye-popping backdrop for the sprawling roller coaster and iconic ferris wheel.  A perfectly lovely photo — for daytime.

But in the evening, the scene morphs into a kaleidoscope of color, flashing lights and pounding music. Like all amusement parks after dark, it has a pulse.

A ‘perfectly lovely photo’ of the ferris wheel just wouldn’t do. I wanted to shake it up a bit and convey the “rush”.

So, I had to take a risk and do the thing you’re not supposed to do. Shake the camera — on purpose. Using a really slow shutter speed.

The following photos were captured in a “close-your-eyes-and-go-for-it” frenzy — I swung my camera back and forth…..jerked it violently from side to side……spun it around in tight circles, then took a deep breath and kept on going, snapping randomly again and again, bracing myself for utter ruin.

And then this happened…..

Night Abstract - Santa Monica Pier

…..utterly beautiful chaos…..

2) The chaos and color...

Ferris Wheel Ferris Wheel

In this wild moment, I was reminded of my favorite Latin proverb:  Fortes Fortuna Juvat (Fortune favors the bold).

Inspiring words for truimphs large and small……with or without a camera.

– 30 –

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