Rule #1 - Aim Higher!
-> you won't get better composition unless you are trying toRule #2 - Look before you leap
-> you're unlikely to get better composition unless you are looking[link]Rule #3 - The third rule is the rule of thirds
-> it's not the number one rule in all the books for nothing!
Read a book about composition, about painting, about photography in general and in almost every case the first thing you will find is the rule of thirds. The rule is basically an approximation of another rule (Golden Section) discovered, but not invented long, long ago.
I say discovered rather than invented because it is something fundamental to the universe, and we respond to it automatically. Ignore it at your peril!
It's references are so widespread that to define it would be redundant. Here are some links[link][link][link]
Here's an article on Cartier-Bresson and the Golden Section:[link]
Here's another golden section analysis of a pic by Turkish photographer Erdal Kinaci:[link]
Here are some examples from
Note how the body of the figure runs up the vertical left third and the arm across the horizontal top third, intersecting at the face and making it the centre of visual focus (it's not the only thing that makes it the focus of attention but there are two other compositional rules working here!)[link]
Note the position of the two main "actors" [link]
Note the figures both on vertical "third lines" and the angle of glare cutting across the top horizontal one[link]
(There is one thing I forgot to mention - if you are looking for Rule-of-thirds composition with a camera set to use centre weighted metering/focus be careful that the camara doesn't set those on something that isn't your subject!)
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