In this first post we are going to talk about The "rule of thirds". There is no right and wrong composition in photography. A photograph communicates a messaging.
The "rule of thirds" is when you divide the image into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The "rule of thirds" is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their points of intersection.
In the above photo you can see the "rule of thirds" in action. See how the food in focus is at one of the intersecting points
The main reason for this rule is to discourage placement of the subject at the center, or prevent a horizon from appearing to divide the picture in half.
Horizons are often best located at the upper-third of the picture, unless you would like to put the emphasize on the sky by having it take up two thirds of the picture. Tall subjects my look best if that are assigned to the right or left thirds of a Vertical composition.
In the above photo you can see the "rule of thirds" for horizontal composition. See how Ben Franklin and Mark Twain is on the thirds line.
Another important thing to consider is if your subject is an object (i.e. person, animal, vehicle) anything that has what is considered a "front-end", it should be arranged in a horizontal composition so that the front is facing into the picture. if not the viewer will wonder what your subject is looking at, or where the animal is heading.
Now I believe that rules are meant to be broken from time to time but it's a great idea that to know why you are breaking the rules.
Here is an instance of breaking the rules. Cinderella castle is at one of the point but it is in the lower third of the photo because I wanted to get in the fireworks.
Placing the subject matter off-center is usually a good idea. When you center your subject it tends to look a little staged and static, when you offset your subject to one side or the other imply movement, because it has a place to go, so to speak.
For instance, it's not important to include the extra space in vertical compositions for anything that doesn't move. A tree can but up against the top of an image with no problem. Your viewer doesn't expect the object to be moving, so we don't need to leave the extra space, but if your object is of a rocket, it would be best to place it in the lower two-thirds to leave room above it.