by Kerry Drager
When it comes to composing a picture, the "less is more" principle often works best: Zero in tight and show just a photogenic slice of the object, building, person, flower, whatever. However, if you plan to show ALL of your subject, then make sure you actually DO show ALL of it. This "rule" applies to both big views and little details.
Consider this example: an upper-body portrait with the head and one arm fitting nicely within the picture's borders ... but with the other arm just touching (or ALMOST touching) the frame. That can be distracting. The solution: Either zoom in tighter on your subject for a head-and-shoulders shot, or compose the photo so that there is good "breathing room" on each side.
Whenever possible, try this all-purpose, last-minute viewfinder check: Run your eye from edge to edge, looking for distracting elements, "hot spots" or bright glare, and any part of your full-frame subject that's bumping right up against the picture frame in a distracting way - i.e., either clipped by the pic border, or touching the border, or so close to the border that things really look cramped. Of course, this procedure is easier with static subjects AND when using a tripod.
Remember: If you are going to zero in tight on your subject in the viewfinder, make it a definitive statement -- so the viewer knows that it was your creative decision. If you eliminate just a tip of your subject, this might very well look like an oversight.