Breaking the horizon line in a composition is so important, yet it something that many people forget when creating an image. Let's review the image above to explore what I mean. When I arrived at the beach early on Saturday morning with the weekends workshop group, it was immediately clear what we would be photographing. The old tree made such a great foreground subject that there was only one choice. However deciding on composition was the easy part, creating it proved to be challenging.
For the image to work and have some depth, there were a few elements that I need to consider. In the image there are 2 vertical lines that I needed to ensure were broken with the foreground subject. The first was in the background of the image, If you look at the top of the log, it is above the horizon line. It is also just far enough above the horizon to be at the same height of the castle which balances the image. Just try to image what the image would have looked like, if the top of it had been inline with the cliffs in the background, it just wouldn't have worked. The second line that needed to be broken was where the sea met the beach. Getting the log to break this in 2 places adds to the image and breaks up the dead space in the middle of the image. Once again had the lower part of the log not broken this line or indeed if it was just touch this point then the image wouldn't have worked again.
The eagle eyed amongst you will no doubt have noticed that I have not followed the rule of 3rds to the letter. There is very good reason for this. The rest of the image would not have lined up if I had placed the castle on one third and the log on another. There is a really valuable lesson here. We are always taught that we must follow the rule of thirds. But what happens when we do and it ruins the image? Photography is art and we need to be able to put our own interoperation into an image.