# 6 of the Judging a Photograph Series
Today’s image is called Flaming November and it was a winner in a Tree photography competition. In case you’re wondering, if I keep featuring my winning photographs for this series, I’m going to run out of them pretty quickly. I’m not a competition winning machine, I’m not that good. However I wanted to feature this image today because last week I wrote about the rule of thirds. All these rules of composition can be broken but it’s hard to know when. Sometimes I wonder about putting the subject in the middle of a photograph instead of to one side.
Spotting a good shot
This gorgeous autumn maple was standing in a small green park area which was really just a traffic island in a West Yorkshire village. The light was super because it picked out the whole colourful treetop against the shade of another huge tree behind. I snapped this shot very quickly but I didn’t hesitate to put the maple tree bang in the centre. Something about the composition just screamed “centre” to me. Now, if you look at the background I think it’s possible to see why it works.
Successfully breaking the rule
First of all this tree is making a real statement of it’s presence – and it was doing it long before I used selective colour to turn the rest of the image monochrome. In this way the image is a bit like a portrait, and I’ve had my wrist slapped in the past for putting my portrait subjects off to the side. So when the subject is so strong, I want to try to get it in the middle. It’s the background that makes this possible. There are three rounded hedges off to the left and trios are always a big positive thing in a photograph. The large tree framing the top of the image has it’s trunk on the right-hand and lower third line intersection. These background touches make a good balance and allow me to easily and successfully break the rule of thirds when I put the maple in the centre.
I wasn’t thinking it through in this much detail when I shot it. I just knew I was looking at something that felt right. So my tip would be this: When you put the subject in the centre, perhaps try to find something else in the image which adds balance to the composition. It could be something as simple as a tree trunk in the background.
Why not follow me on Pinterest? I’ve got one whole board dedicated to photos of beautiful trees and another with photography tips.