Our mind is programmed to eliminate things that are un-important or trivial to us. We tend to only see the main subject while ignoring the rest. To overcome this you will need to practice seeing! You will have to pay special attention to all of the elements in your viewfinder. Not just your main subject but the small things such as tree branches or maybe a piece of trash. Once you start to notice these things you can start to get rid of elements that don't need to be there. If something in your viewfinder is not supporting your main subject you can leave it out of the frame. This may be accomplished by moving slightly to the left or right or even positioning the camera up or down. Try filling the frame with your subject. This will certainly tell the view what you were photographing. If you cannot fill the viewfinder, try to manage your background. A clean, non-distracting background can make your subject standout. Remember, simplify. A good photographer notices the small things.
End of the Rainbow
Donít forget about your depth of field preview button (if your camera has one). If not a little tip that I use is to squint while looking through the viewfinder this will help to highlight distracting hotspots in the background. Also be careful about getting your subjects to close to the edge of the frame this can be distracting as well. When something is touching the edge of a frame, make a intentional choice to include it all or definitely crop a part of it. Do not let the viewer wonder if you wanted to include it in the frame or leave it out.
The Last Leaf
One of the most accepted 'rules' in photography is the Rule of Thirds. Divide your frame or view finder into thirds and position your main subject where the lines intersect. I like to think of it as a tic tac toe grid. Pick one of these 4 intersection points and thatís where you place your point of interest for the most favorable composition. There are plenty of exceptions to this rule, but itís a great guideline. Then we move on to what's the most important part of the photograph, the foreground or the sky? Deciding which one you want to emphasis is the part you'll want to highlight. If there is nothing going on in the sky then don't include very much of it.
Foot Prints in The Sand
Final Tips--Find your composition first with the camera OFF the tripod. Look around, bend down, and find the best perspective and position for your composition. Then grab your tripod and set it up so that your camera is in the same position as the composition you found.
Of course while knowing the rules can be important - knowing when to use them and when to break them is a talent that great photographers generally have. Practice these techniques - but donít get so worked up about them that they kill the creativity that you have.
Moonlight Granite Night
Hopefully this will get you started in the right direction and you will be able to come home with some outstanding imagesÖ