As we study and apply the rules of composition we gain a lot from the use of elements such as leading lines, the rule of thirds/balance etc. We may even understand that viewers in the West (who read left to right) may see images differently to those who read in the opposite direction.
This last rule may not hold the same importance as others, but can become significant when that theory is put to use. I remember in my early days of photography hovering over a library book that displayed images that were reversed to great effect, and it is something I have been trying to pay attention to more in my work.
The problem is, we photographers tend to shoot images that are attractive to the eye, and in my case at least it takes a conscious effort to imagine the same scene reversed. I wonder how many opportunities I have discounted simply because I failed to look beyond what was presented.
I provide some quick examples below - as you transition through them they will generate a different feeling, even though the images are exactly the same. This phenomenon will have a greater or lesser effect depending on the image, so it is worth experimenting with your own photos to evaluate.
In the following example the first image appears more harmonious to Westerners, the eye flows in from the left with the tree guiding the viewer through the frame
The second image produces a very different emotion - with the eye now coming to an abrupt stop as it hits the tree. This evokes a feeling of discord.
User the < > arrows to switch imagesphenonemon
This second example flips the vertical plane of the image. The first image shows the final result, an provides a challenge to the eye. Although we recognize the subjects our brains are challenged to make sense of the scene. It is only the visual cue of the feet below that sets the mind at rest
The second image displays what was shot, with our minds quickly reconciling what we see.