Rule of Thirds

Composition 101 #Part 1

Images generally look best when the main subject is not in the middle. There are a number of photographic principles (generally called rules, though I hate that phrase) that can guide you towards a better composition. The most basic of these principles is the ‘Rule of Thirds’. Interestingly, there has been a backlash against this rule, possibly due to the fact it is the first, and often the last, of the compositional rules that anyone uses. However, if you have not yet put thought into your composition, this is the place to start. Before explaining what the rule of thirds is, let’s look at some examples.

In each of these photos, I have lined up the nearest eye to the intersection of two lines.

In the examples above I have left the rule of thirds grid on each photo. In Lightroom you can see this grid by going into the crop mode. Once in crop mode you can press ‘o’ on your keyboard and you will get to flick though a number of compositional frameworks that will help you frame your image. Of course, if you are seeking the best possible quality photos from your camera it is much better NOT to crop your images at all. To help you get it right ‘in camera’, most manufacturers will let you superimpose the image on your screen, or in your viewfinder.

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 13.45.05

Lightroom Screen Shot

I like the photo above as the character adds to what otherwise, would be a nice, but rather plain landscape photo. The man who is meditation adds to the peacefulness of the lake. While I took a number of photos, it is here, where I have used the ROT that has created the best composition. Notice, the character is not spot on the point where the two lines meet, but rather sits to the left of the intersecting lines. Do not worry about being too precise, otherwise all your images will look the same.

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 14.07.27

Screen Shot from Lightroom.

The character in the photo above had to be framed in the centre, as I wanted to portray the construction debris she was surrounded by. Often I look for contrast in subjects within the frame, and seeing her clear so much mess with just a straw broom makes for a strong image. However, even with a subject centred in the frame, I have used the rule of thirds to separate the sky and the land. The building is also placed at a crossroads of two lines.

Breaking The Rules

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.     

Ansel Adams

For goodness sake, please take the work ‘rule’ in most literal sense. However, you cannot break a rule if you do not know it in the first place. This is something to consider when framing, or cropping a photo. If you do not have any guidelines to help frame your images, than this is something definitely worth your time playing with.

%d bloggers like this: