We live in the internet times, and you read everywhere advice about "don't block your shadows", and "don't blow the highlights". People are told to watch the histogram, and if there is anything overspilling at either end, something has to be done about it. HDR is hopelessly misunderstood and misused, and even if we're talking about only one image, the manipulation of shadows and highlights reveals a tendency to blindly follow this.
Well, I strongly disagree, and I say: don't be a histogram slave! Not all images are meant to have even histograms. Some images must have blocked shadows and/or blown highlights. If you try to squeeze the dynamic range of the scene into an image, the result can be lackluster. Notice the following images:
|"Proper" histogram. But a boring result|
|Blocked shadows and blown highlights. So what?! This image has clearly more "punch"|
Composition doesn't care about histograms; it doesn't care about shadows and highlights. As far as composition is concerned, the only thing that matters is balance and dynamics. Contrast (in terms of juxtaposition), patterns, relations, and virtual flows. If an element (whether it becomes blocked as shadows or blown as highlights) is either minor in the scene or, alternatively, it actually serves the composition by being blocked/blown (as in the photo example shown above), then this is what matters. Not a "perfect" histogram.