I hesitate to write this post since there are about as many rules of composition as there are photographers and the best landscape images I’ve ever seen break these rules with impunity. It’s hard to describe what makes the composition of a certain image “work” for me and I rarely follow the “rule of thirds”. For me it’s more a feeling of “rightness” than anything else, although I do tend to follow Moose Peterson’s advice; “Regardless of where the horizon is, a good landscape image needs an interesting foreground, middle-ground and background to pull the viewer into the image”.
Take this image for example. I walked around this small lake at Buescher State Park in Smithville, Texas looking for different shots to capture. The late afternoon light was almost perfect and the still lake reflected the autumn colors beautifully. The reflections in the water made a wonderful foreground with the trees providing the key subject of the middle-ground and the high, thin clouds providing a striking background. I used the tree branches on the left to add some framing to the image.