ShutterRunner's Guide To Composition
Composition is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of photography. Unfortunately, there is no algorithm or step by step instruction manual for creating an interesting looking composition. Instead, I have compiled a list of ideas which can be used as guidelines for a beginner photographer looking to create interesting images. This list is by no means comprehensive, and these rules can and should be broken at times. As you get better at photography, so will your understanding of what makes an image interesting. Directly below is a video of how I apply the various composition ideas to scenes that I encounter, below the video, you can find all of the ideas applied during fimling and a few more.
Rule of Thirds
Most new photographers are tempted to put the subject matter of the photograph in the middle of the frame. The rule of thirds suggests that instead, the subject matter(s) of our photographs should be placed along one of the two imaginary lines that divide the photograph into thirds horizontally or vertically, or better yet, at the intersections of these lines.
Put Something in the Foreground
Another mistake that rookie photographers make, especially when shooting landscapes, is to create a photograph only with the background in mind. Often you'll see photograhs of a skyline, or perhaps just a sunset with nothing in the foreground. The foreground element is equally important to making the photograph interesting, and shouldn't be neglected.
The idea of symmetry often conflicts with that of the rule of thirds. As we see in the examples below, having a nearly perfect symmetrical shot can be very compelling.
Reflection is a great way to add interest to your photos. I am always looking for a fresh rain puddle or still lake to create reflection in my photographs, but water isn't the only way to create reflection. Windows, mirrors, glass, and shadows can all be used to create an interesting reflection.
Lines can be used to navigate a viewer through a photo. Leading lines can be natural, or man made, anything from a river, to a path, or even a pattern in the floor.
Patterns and Textures
The repetition of patterns and textures can be very pleasing to the eye.
Don't fall into the habit of always extending your tripod legs fully before taking a picture. Consider folding your tripod up to it's shortest height, and seeing what the scene looks like from down low. The uniqueness of a very low perspective can be pleasing to the eye.
Similar to the low perspective, seeing things from an unusually high perspective can be equally pleasing. Consider getting up high before snapping your shutter button.
Why use only one of these ideas when you can implement multiple in the same photo?
Break the Rules
Now it's time to take all the tips that I've laid out, ignore them completely, and do your own thing. Invent yourself, and try something unique, remember having fun is what it's all about.