Learn how to use positive and negative space
Good compositional skills are particularly important when working from a hide as you often have a limited field of view. Use the rule of thirds to help you frame your shots by imagining that your image is divided into nine equal parts by two vertical and two horizontal lines. Position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at their intersections. Aim to keep your subject away from the middle of the frame.
A picture can be divided into four spatial elements: positive space, negative space, active space, and dead space. The positive space is the main subject and negative space fills the rest of the scene; they must be balanced to create a successful composition. The positive space or main focal point gives the eye a place to rest as it moves over an image, and the negative space provides breathing room.
Typically you have more space in front of a subject so that it looks into the scene. The reason for this is that when we view an image with a person or animal looking one way or the other, our eyes are drawn in that direction. The space in front of a subject is active space and the space behind is often called dead space.
Try to look for natural symmetry and patterns as you frame your images and keep the horizon level. Use leading lines to guide the eye through the scene or towards the main focal point. Our vision is excellent at distinguishing between different elements, whereas a camera has a tendency to flatten the image. Framing your shots against an uncluttered background will help to isolate the subject and make it stand out.
I often try to pre-visualise my images, especially when I am able to plan or anticipate where a subject will be. A good example of this is setting up props for birds to land on and then using AF point selection to pre-compose the scene.
“Try to look for natural symmetry and patterns”
THE OWL AND THE BEE A beautiful wild little owl, Athene noctua, on an old gate with wildflowers and a little bee. Captured from a wooden hide by a field of summer barley RULE OF THIRDS I used the rule of thirds to help me compose this imageLEADING LINES The old gate leads the viewer into the picture towards the main subjectNEGATIVE SPACEI included lots of nice negative space to helpbalance the sceneACTIVE SPACE The owl is facing into theframe creating a more harmonious composition