Nov 23 2009

The Famous Rule of Thirds in Photography

Published by at 7:09 am under General

As you are interested in photography, then you must have heard about the Rule of Thirds. It is based upon the common belief that the eyes first look at the sides of a photograph, not at its center . That’s why, according to the rule, the subject should be placed along imaginary lines indicating the best spots within the photograph.

The reason why this rule is very well known is that it is pretty easy to apply. By just putting your subject in the correct position, you will have a photo complying with it.

A photograph is divided into a 3×3 grid similar to that of thee famous Tic-tac-toe game. Two lines are used to divide the photograph into three horizontal sections, while two other perpendicular lines divide it into three vertical sections. Thus, we will have four intersection points, each of which is a hot-spot for framing the subjects . These four points along with the lines should be used as guides on which you should align your subjects.

Photographing at close range will yield a subject that is too big to be framed as a whole. Instead of aligning the subject itself, interesting parts within it are the ones that should be aligned. An interesting example of this case is a closeup portrait where the facial features are the objects that form the composition. Eyes are usually placed along the top horizontal line. This is mainly because eyes are the most important feature of the face, and that by doing so, the rest of the facial features will be well placed inside the photo too.

Landscape photographers use this rule too. A lone subject in the foreground (a tree for example) is a perfect candidate to be aligned to one of the vertical lines. Horizons in the background, if any, should be placed along one of the horizontal lines. Some landscape photos may contain other elements in the background like clouds or mountains. These can also be aligned to the lines of thirds and, if possible, separated in different thirds, producing a well composed photograph.

In photography, it is very important to know exactly when to break the rules. For instance, if you align everything in perfect compliance with the rule just to discover that an essential part will not be included inside the frame, slightly moving the viewfinder to include all the details will not cause any damages. In other situations the rule is usually neglected, like when trying to balance reflection with the real subjects inside the frame. A more conventional alignment in this case is to put the line separating the real from the reflection exactly at the center.

The Rule of Thirds is an easy to learn, yet very effective technique. When used correctly, it will take your photographs to a whole new level.

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