When you're surrounded by beautiful scenery, it's easy to overlook the small details that make a scene special. But there's no substitute for the pleasure that comes from spending a little time in a scene, identifying its intricacies, and creating an image that conveys this meaning to others. Capturing these intricacies is often the most rewarding aspect of photography, because they're almost always uniquely reflective your own vision.
People frequently look at this image and ask if I arranged these red leaves. The answer is an emphatic, No! I usually go on to remind them that you can draw a straight line between any two objects on the face of the earth (or any other planet, as far as I know). In fact, the only arranging I do to an image is myself, and in that regard I'm quite aggressive. In the field I look for individual elements to isolate in the frame; or better yet, groups of elements. But finding my subjects is not the end of the job--without properly positioning the subjects in the frame, the scene is likely to fail. But don't move the subjects, move yourself. In this scene I circled the leaves slowly, with my camera to my eye, until the frame felt balanced. And while the leaves ended up at the "rule of thirds" points, that wasn't a conscious decision on my part, but rather confirmation that the rule of thirds is indeed valid (sometimes).
What's the rule of thirds? Very simply, imagine a tic-tac-toe grid on your frame; important linear elements (like the horizon) should be on the lines, and important point objects (like these leaves) should be at or near the intersections. I hesitate to even bring this up because the ROT is one of most frequent photography "rules" to be broken effectively. I think its real value is to help remind beginners not to bullseye subjects, or crowd them against the edges. In reality I could probably show about as many successful images that break the ROT as follow it. My own rule to apply to the ROT is that it is always trumped by my intuition, my sense for what what balances a frame.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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