There are a lot of things to keep in mind when trying to take a memorable photograph. Obviously, you need to consider exposure. An incorrectly exposed image won't convey the story. But when you think about exposure you can't consider it alone because exposure affects the depth of field which in turn affects the composition. So start with composing the image and let that determine the exposure. With that in mind, I frame the elements that I see in front of me. What is the "message"? What am I seeing that I want the viewer to see and then how do I put the pieces together to capture that.
Ok...you see some elements and their relationship. These elements are things like foreground objects to draw in the viewer eyes, mid-ground elements that might be the main subject and then elements at other points that frame the image. You set up your tripod and camera, "place" the elements in the frame, decide on the depth of field to emphasize (or not) some elements, set the exposure and click away. You look at the back of the camera and the histogram looks good. Success!
Then you get home and look at the image on your computer and you notice something. Things don't look right. Oh cr@p! You sit there thinking...damn, I thought I leveled the camera/tripod. Oh well, Lightroom/Photoshop to the rescue! Simply use the cropping/straightening tool to find a level line, adjust the image, crop it so it's level and done. But then you look at those results and something still doesn't look right. What's wrong...hmmm...the trees don't look right. Why are the trees leaning left? Don't trees grow straight up (they do except under certain conditions)? Why are the trees leaning left...why are the trees leaning left...well you cropped the image...hmmm.
Here is the image that caused me to write this blog.
I (essentially) did what is described above and found the image did not look right after "straightening". Why...because I did remember to level the camera and tripod when I composed the image. The original image is correct and the ground in the background is slanted. Bear in mind that with a wide angle lens, objects on the edges of the image will keystone so you need to look at elements in the middle of the image. And the trees in the middle are upright.
Feel free to use the links below to visit my website, Facebook page or Google+ stream or follow me on Twitter.