Thank you so much for your lovely comments about my photographs I really appreciate it. Because several of you said you wished you had time to do a photography course I thought I would pass on a few pointers which help me. I hope that is not too presumptuous of me.
Firstly I think that your best friend is the crop tool. Even simple editing programs have this facility. I will take you through my thinking in cropping a picture.
Here is the originally photograph of some honesty flowers I took with the macro lens. It is quite pretty, but not very exciting.
I use the crop tool to try to find a better composition using the usual rules. With flower pictures I often find a square crop works well. As the flowers that are in focus are in the left hand side that is the area I will use. Firstly I found this crop which gives strong diagonals. It also shows up the green seed pod which is sharply in focus against the darker background.
The rule of thirds is also a very useful compositional tool. I look for elements which fall on a line dividing the rectangle into thirds. As you can see with this composition the lines are only a loose guide but they do help balance your composition.
Here are both pictures without the lines - do you have a preference?
Another composition pattern I look for is a triangle.
Of course there are many compositional devises; a single diagonal, inverted triangle, vertical lines, horizontal lines and you could probably name more. By using the crop tool you can use these lines to strengthen your composition. Sometimes you only need to crop a little off one or more sides of your photograph to make all the difference and draw emphasis to your subject. This comma butterfly I took works quite well. I hand held the camera and was using automatic focus so I had my subject dead centre in case it flew off.
But a simple crop makes all the difference. I have used the rule of thirds for the crop below.
(The rule of thirds gives a pleasing balance and is close to the Golden Section - but that is another story)
I think that many people shy away from using these simple editing tools. At first I thought it was 'cheating' to change my photographs, but of course photographers who develop their own pictures in the dark room have many 'tools' to help them make the most of their photographs. If you have never played with the crop tool, I hope you will give it a go and let me know what you think of the outcome.