Jun 18 2007

The First Rule of Photography

Published by at 10:45 am under Better Photos

How many times will I write about this one? Who knows, but if you haven’t “got it” yet, please read again.

Rule of Thirds

The most highly talked about and most beneficial rule of composition for any new photographer to know is the Rule of Thirds. Used by all professionals, and unknowingly by many amateurs, the Rule of Thirds can be used when you are not sure exactly how to set up your composition. Contrary to popular belief, the Rule of Thirds is not difficult to learn or use, and keeping it in mind can drastically change the quality of your work.

Fortunately, our minds think in Rule of Thirds mode even if we do not know it. That is why this rule is so important-it sets into motion a picture that is just naturally pleasing to the eye. If your viewfinder has a grid option, use it. This was set up to make using the Rule of Thirds easy. If your camera does not have this option, you’ll have to imagine it. When you look at the frame, mentally draw a tic-tac-toe box on the image so that there are two lines running horizontally and two running vertically.

Next, check out your subject matter in relationship to the horizontal lines. Your picture will have the most impact if the horizon is placed close to one of these lines, so that your sky occupies about 1/3 or 2/3 of the picture. This will give more visual impact. The next step is to look at you subject matter in relationship to the four points on the grid where the horizontal and vertical lines meet. These are known as “sweet spots” for photographers. By placing visual importance in these spots, your picture will look more balanced.

Good photographs also usually include diagonal lines. If this is the case, they will be most visually pleasing if they run through one or two of the sweet spots. Now, your subject matter will not always perfectly agree with the rule of thirds, but these are just general rules to keep in mind. Not only should you be willing to break these rules, but you should also understand that not every element in the picture will fall perfectly on the sweet spot. However, by keeping the Rule of Thirds in mind, you can create pictures with more impact. Practice arranging portraits, landscapes, and still life shots so that you follow the rules and look at your past photographs to see if they can be cropped to follow the rules. By doing this, you can take a good picture to great in a matter of seconds.

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