Whether that’s physically looking at a sweeping view in front of you or visualising an image in your head, this is the point when you should start asking yourself questions.
What has drawn you to this image? Why do you want to capture it? And what is it that you hope to achieve?
It’s all about imagining the picture you want, and then working back to determine what you have to do to realise that shot.
How to take good photos: 02 Get composition spot-on every time
Whenever you look through your camera’s viewfinder, or line up a shot on the LCD screen, you take your first step towards composing a shot.
Just imagine two lines crossing the frame horizontally, and two crossing it vertically to divide it into thirds.
Positioning key elements on these lines, such as a horizon on one of the horizontal lines, can produce a more dynamic image than having something dead centre in the frame.
Placing key elements at the point where the lines intersect also serves as a powerful compositional device.
SEE MORE: How to compose a photograph – start seeing images where you never saw them before
Drawing the eye in
Using leading lines and foreground interest can also strengthen a picture. Whether it’s a stream winding away from the camera position, a wall receding into the distance, or the implied leading line of a subject looking into the distance, these will all help to draw a viewer’s eye into a picture – perhaps to a more distant feature that you want to highlight.
SEE MORE: Leading lines – photography’s most underrated composition device
At the same time, you don’t want to have a large, blank space in the foreground, so look for something interesting to fill the bottom of the frame and link this to the main subject.
Above all, when you look through the viewfinder you should be aware of everything you’re looking at – not just the subject, but the way the various picture elements work to attract the eye and whether there are any distractions creeping into the edges of the frame.
Sure, you can crop or clone these out later, but zooming in slightly or taking a step to one side to exclude something isn’t difficult, and highlights the difference between a good photographer and a digital retoucher.
While it can get boring when used in a formulaic way, there’s no doubt that the Rule of Thirds is a valuable tool in your compositional repertoire. This boat would have looked much less attractive if plonked dead centre!
SEE MORE: The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)
The Golden Spiral is a time-honoured way of creating more visually harmonious compositions. The Rule of Thirds is a simplified version of this ancient formula.