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In any composition, consideration should be given as to what needs to be included within the frame. Such aspects are background, foreground, colours (or tones if mono is used), lines, forms, textures and the relationships between them. Cropping images during editing can often lead to better composition by cutting out irrelevant elements and distracting things adjacent to edges. Strength and direction of light are often important aspects when composing because they directly effect the mood of an image and help create a three dimensional illusion in an otherwise flat medium. Proper placement of the main object(s) of visual focus within the frame to obtain balance and interest is usually desirable - however, a main object or objects are not always necessary if the intention is otherwise, for example if the whole frame is filled with a pattern or where a flat representation is the issue. The 'Rule of Thirds' is one of my pet hates in photography. It's important to understand when composing and/or cropping an image, but once the concept is grasped and one is familiar with visual structure within the frame, the rule of thirds can become an unnecessary restriction which can lead to formulaic, predictable looking images. Freeing up the frame also offers greater possibilities for abstract and symmetrical work. The R O T is not always that significant and is often a visual comfort thing which can become a meaningless ploy, automatically done. A point or points of visual interest or focus can be anywhere - or not, yet the result can still be effective. Sure, learn the 'rules' of photography, know them backwards, then break them, experiment and help realise your creative potential. Try and avoid getting bogged down with rules. If unsure about them, try articulating what you find pleasing about various compositions of others and your own, but being too analytical can spoil the fun of photography. Composition is a subjective thing although there are certain universal parameters worth observing. Each subject and situation should present its own compositional requirements which can be effected by lighting, mood, atmosphere, emotion and a whole host of other aspects depending on what it is you want to portray, how you want to do it and how you want to make the result appear. When you shoot an image, having in mind what it is you want to achieve is important - there are no rules for that, just your imagination and expectations. Composition can be a complex thing but what happens before the shutter button is pressed is the most important part. I think the best advice I can relate to those who are flummoxed by the rules of composition is - bear them in mind but give yourself the freedom of not being tied to them. Practice and experiment often, familiarising yourself with different situations, both simple and complex. For a composition to be successful it must contain visual interest and how that is achieved is entirely up to you. It involves more than merely capturing what is in front of the camera.