Digital Photography School - RSU54 / Photography School Search Rule of Thirds ... Using the Rule of Thirds comes naturally to some photographers but for many of us takes a little time and

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  • 1/26/09 10:44 AMRule of Thirds

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    Digital Photography School


    Rule of Thirds

    Perhaps the most well knowprinciple of photographic composition is the Rule of Thirds.

    Its one of the first things that budding digital photographers learn about in classes on photography andrightly so as it is the basis for well balanced and interesting shots.

    I will say right up front however that rules are meant to be broken and ignoring this one doesnt mean yourimages are necessarily unbalanced or uninteresting. However a wise person once told me that if you intendto break a rule you should always learn it first to make sure your breaking of it is all the more effective!

    What is the Rule of Thirds?

    The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both

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    horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts. As follows.

    As youre taking an image you would have done this in your mind through your viewfinder or in the LCDdisplay that you use to frame your shot.

    With this grid in mind the rule of thirds now identifies four important parts of the image that you shouldconsider placing points of interest in as you frame your image.

    Not only this - but it also gives you four lines that are also useful positions for elements in your photo.

    The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photobecomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally. Studieshave shown that when viewing images that peoples eyes usually go to one of the intersection points mostnaturally rather than the center of the shot - using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewingan image rather than working against it.

    In addition to the above picture of the bee where the bees eye becomes the point of focus here are some ofexamples:

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    In this image Ive purposely placed the head of my subject on one of the intersecting points - especially hiseyes which are a natural point of focus for a portrait. His tie and flower also take up a secondary point ofinterest.

    In this shot Ive placed the subject along a whole line which means she is considerably off center andtherefore creating an additional point of interest. Placing her right in the center of the frame could haveresulted in an awkward shot.

    In a similar way a good technique for landscape shots is to position horizons along one of the horizontal

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    lines also as Ive done with the following shot (Ill let you imagine the lines).

    Using the Rule of Thirds comes naturally to some photographers but for many of us takes a little time andpractice for it to become second nature.

    In learning how to use the rule of thirds (and then to break it) the most important questions to be asking ofyourself are:

    What are the points of interest in this shot?Where am I intentionally placing them?

    Once again - remember that breaking the rule can result in some striking shots - so once youve learnt itexperiment with purposely breaking it to see what you discover.

    Lastly - keep the rule of thirds in mind as you edit your photos later on. Post production editing tools todayhave good tools for cropping and reframing images so that they fit within the rules. Experiment with someof your old shots to see what impact it might have on your photos.

    Enjoy this tutorial about the Rule of Thirds? Get more free tips by subscribing to Digital PhotographySchool.

    Read more posts like 'Rule of Thirds'

    Break the Rule of ThirdsTwo Shot Strategy - SymmetryBreak the Rules of Photography and Take Stunning Images

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