OUTDOOR JOURNAL Nature in Bloom Tips for Spring Wildflower Photography Pt. 2 Story and Photos by Ed Rehbein, West Virginia South Contributor "A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is thereby a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety." Ansel Adams Despite the complex mechanical processes that go into taking a photograph, in the end, a great image is not purely a technical achievement. As Adams’ quote explains, a great photograph inspires emotions, moving viewers to explore nature and self. Before you dismiss this ideal as out-of-reach for the everyday photographer, rest assured that anyone can take photos that emotionally impact viewers. If you have feel- ings (and we all do), then you can create photographs that express those emotions and, most importantly, share them with others. The purpose of taking a photograph of a wild- flower, in my opinion, is not necessarily to make an exact copy of it, but to capture the feelings that the flower gener- ates. In “Tips on Spring Wildflower Photography” (Feb/March 2019 issue), I stressed two technical factors: light and depth of field. This article, in contrast, focuses on image esthet- ics, which is the study of beauty and taste. A crucial part of 30 ❖ SOUTH ❖ APRIL-MAY '19 image esthetics is composition, defined as the “placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art.” Most of the following tips I offer focus on differ- ing aspects of composition. Sensitivity to composition will strengthen the expressiveness of your images. The Rule of Thirds The rule of thirds capitalizes on the idea that the human eye is naturally attracted to points of intersection of an image split into thirds both vertically and horizontally. As the illustration demonstrates, these divisions produce four intersections. I call these intersections “sweet spots” because the eye instinctively goes to them. Therefore, when com- posing a wildflower image, resist the temptation to make a bulls-eye out of the main blossom. Centering the blossom produces a static image; the eye stalls out at the center and quickly loses interest in the rest of the photograph. Instead, try placing the subject of your photograph at or near the four points of intersection. In my photograph of a Turk’s cap lily, for example, the main bloom lies at one of the sweet spots, making the overall image compositionally pleasing.