As Scott says, with cameras getting so much better, we’d all better learn how to shoot and what makes a great photograph. Here are some lists of these, starting with Ken Rockwell’s list:
Ken Rockwell’s What Makes a Great Photograph.. He’s a great resource and puts things into plain English. In this case, his point is the most important thing is the structure. In the image below, its the big red diamond surrounds by blue and gray. As he says, ” a good photograph is all about shapes, colors and balance” It has nothing to do with the burnt out bathouse. The actual subject doesn’t matter. As he says, “if the image disappears at a thumbnail in a web gallery, you have no structure.”
When composing, he looks aways and sees the viewfinder from the corner of the eye, so you ignore the details. And as he says, eliminate details and things that don’t need to be there. Get rid of things like signs or parts of sidewalks. This is all about moving up or down or left and right so that the objects have the right positions. The best class or a photography is to do a drawing class at a community college. Interesting. In teh end, it about balancing light and dark, big and small, patterns, etc. As an interesting aside, painters oftentimes invert their canvas to see how the composition works without focusing on the subject. Other interesting factoids, orange or bright colors move forward and dark colors recede, so if you put bright in front, you get a 3-D image. Two other things, the most interesting landscapes look like mush when photographed because we only have 2-D, so look at images with one eye closed (or use an EVF 🙂 and finally, there is nothing wrong with darkening (dodging) parts of the image that are on the edges (eg sometimes vignetting is good because it draws attention to the center of the photography…
The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression. He loves this book the most as the single most complete guide.
Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography, Revised Edition. This is his choice for outdoor photography and composition.