Plum Tree, China

Photograph by Raymond Gehman, National Geographic

This elegant image by Raymond Gehman is a perfect example of the compositional Rule of Thirds, best understood by imagining a tic-tac-toe grid placed over the photograph. Balance within a photograph is often achieved by placing the strong elements along those grid lines, with the very strongest at the intersection of the lines. This photograph is beautiful for many reasons, but the balance created by the placement of the tree against the colors of the wall is perfection. —Annie Griffiths

Photo Tip: Placing the most important part of a picture dead center in the frame is usually not very appealing. Remember the Rule of Thirds and seek a composition that strikes a balance between the strongest element and open areas, which will usually lead to a more successful image.

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