The Rule of Thirds

One of the most popular ‘rules’ in photography is the Rule Of Thirds. It is also popular amongst artists.

It works like this:

Imaginary lines are drawn dividing the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. You place important elements of your composition where these lines intersect. I’ve even made a little diagram for you (fig 1).

As well as using the intersections you can arrange areas into bands occupying a third or place things along the imaginary lines. As you can see it is fairly simple to implement. Good places to put things; third of the way up, third of the way in from the left , you get the idea. Duff places to put things; right in the middle, right at the top, right at the bottom, away in the corner.

Using the Rule of Thirds helps produce nicely balanced easy on the eye pictures. Also, as you have to position things relative to the edges of the frame it helps get rid of ‘ tiny subject surrounded by vast empty space’ syndrome.
One last thing about the Rule of Thirds for the time being.Once you have got the hang of the Rule of Thirds you will very quickly want to break it ! This is fine. As I said earlier these ‘rules’ are best used as guidelines and if you can create a better image by bending or ignoring rules then fire away.

There are 5 major elements within each photograph that if used properly with help create a picture that people will be drawn to and want to look at.

  1. Content/Subject
  2. Texture
  3. Color
  4. Space
  5. Light

Not necessarily in that order !

The subject is what makes us initially want to look at an image, it is this that makes the image interesting but only if supported by the other four things mentioned. If the image is flat and without ”texture” or the light is bad or the color balance off or compositionally it is under par it will matter not what the content is unless maybe in a significant news shot. Space to me relates to composition as a whole. The use of positive and negative space can make or break an image. The use of good composition can put the image into context bringing understanding for the viewer or room for interpretation. The balance of colors within an image can be used to draw the viewer’s attention or to distract or confound. The three primary colors Red, Green and blue can be used in a balanced way or one or more of the colors can be used as a dominant. ( we are not talking about the general color balance of the image here but the primaries within the image RGB )

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