Tip Number 2 - Rule Of Thirds - Don't Groan - just try it - it works ;-)

July 18, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

I heard you all groan when you read Rule Of Thirds, most people say they know about it and that they understand it - well if that's the case try using it  :-)

Honestly Read on, understand it and try it, if you are one of those people who is saying you use it and understand, but you don't really, then this is your chance to take yourself off for 10 minutes and actually try it and physically see the difference it will make to those badly framed photos you were previously taking :-) I'm feeling some light bulb moments happening today already :-)

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Tip Number 2 - The Rule Of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a composition technique that helps you to position your subject in the best spot when taking a picture.

Of course, rules should never be applied blindly, particularly in art, so you should think of it more as a handy "rule of thumb" rather than one that's set in stone. However, it will produce a pleasing photo more often than not, and is an excellent starting point for any composition. So trying this on just a few shots - even with your phone - you should see a marked improvement in your composition.

By positioning your object at one of the points where the lines meet, it can make your image become more balanced, this makes it easier for the eye to roll over naturally - see the hay bale above.

Scientific Studies have shown that your eyes naturally move towards one of these four points when looking at an image, rather than going straight to the centre of the photograph.

When you are taking your picture, imagine the frame as being split up into a grid of four lines as shown.

The points where the lines intersect identify the four important points of your frame. According to the rule of thirds, you will want to position your main subject at one of these points, but even close to one of these points has the same effect to the viewer.(more on this below)

The rule of thirds is one of the most useful composition techniques in photography. It really is an important concept to learn as it can be used in all types of photography to produce images which are more engaging and balanced for the viewer.

pelican in flightpelican in flightpelican in flight

In all honesty I have been taking photographs for over 40 years, I don't think about the rule of thirds as i find that I naturally place objects in this fashion - above the elephant is placed where the lines meet and he also has plenty of looking room in the direction he is facing - also leaving space for us to view the landscape behind him.

How to Use The Rule of Thirds

When framing a scene, imagine that the scene is divided up as below. Think about what elements of the photo are most important, and try to position them at or near the lines and intersections of the grid - you can imagine the grid in your minds eye - and if you can't you may even find your camera has one in it's menu settings ????. Of course, the object/subject doesn't have to be perfectly lined up as long as they're close it still has the same effect.

pelican in flightpelican in flightpelican in flight

Above, the Pelican is on the far right line with his wing stretching right up along that line - the pelican is flying towards the left hand side of the frame and so I have given him room to move into as this makes a more comfortable image for the viewer to look at - if the pelicans beak was right up against the left hand edge of frame it would not be pleasant to look at. I have also left plenty of blue sky - negative space - this is a topic for another day really.

pelican in flightpelican in flightpelican in flight

Above the horizon and main subject in this photo have been positioned near lines or intersections for maximum impact/dramatic effect.

You may need to move around to get the best composition. This forces you to think more carefully about the shot you are taking, it is a good habit to get into whether you're using the rule of thirds or not.

Remember to check the menu in your camera settings if you are struggling to imagine the lines as some cameras have a setting which overlays a rule of thirds grid onto your camera screen, thus removing all of the guesswork and helping you get your positioning even more accurate.

Examples

Remember the rule of thirds is very versatile and can be used on any subject, not just landscapes and wildlife, but with animals, people portraits, product photography etc etc. I have put some more examples below for you to look at.

pelican in flightpelican in flightpelican in flight

Above notice we have a row of poppies at the front that reach the line of the first third, with the horses head hitting the second third line - as well as his neck and bottom hitting the vertical third lines too.

 

Often in landscape shots, it can common to position the horizon right across the middle of the frame, but this can give the photo a "split in two" feel. Instead, if you place it along one of the horizontal lines, you get either more sky or more land/sea - thus creating a more dramatic effect for the viewer.

If you try to include an interesting object, such as the tree in a photo - as per the photo below , and then position it according to the rule of thirds. This provides an "anchor", a natural focal point for the scene - this could just as easily be a person - but if it is a person make sure they are either looking at the camera or looking in towards the centre of the scene - remember to give them looking room in the direction in which they are looking..

pelican in flightpelican in flightpelican in flight

Moving Objects

When photographing moving object - whether it's a bird, your child on a bike or a racing car, position them as normal - as you see below i have placed the birds wings along the far right vertical third line, but also pay attention to the direction in which they are moving. As a general rule you should leave more space in front of them than behind them, to show people where they are going.

 

I know i have repeated myself on a few of the points, but before you decide not to use the rule of thirds - or break the rules as it were make sure you know how to use it, whilst it doesn't need to be applied all of the time, using it will more often than not give you amazing images. Understand it before you decide to break it ;-)

Look out for tomorrows Tip. and if you decide you would like to sign up for my monthly newsletters of hints and tips, drop me a message through my contact form, or email me [email protected]

 


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