Photography Composition

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Rule of Thirds

Graph about rule of thirds

Picture 1. When applying rule of thirds the frame is mentally divided into three equal parts horizontally and vertically.

21.06.2007 Category: Photography Composition
Rule of thirds is one of the most well-known rule of image composition. Rule of thirds is very easy to learn and adapt in practice.

Often people place the main subject of the photograph into the middle of the frame. This only seldom yields to the best possible composition except if there is one clear subjects which is photographed very close. Of course there are exceptions to this.

Rule of thirds suggests to place the subject off the center. According to rule of thirds the picture frame is mentally divided in to three parts horizontally and vertically as in the picture 1. The main subject of the photograph is then placed in one of the four locations where the lines intersect. These intersections are marked with red dots in the picture 1.

Rule of Thirds Example 1

Rule of thirds in Practice

Picture 2. When applying rule of thirds the subject is placed into the intersection of the lines or close to it.

When framing the picture 2, I placed the goat roughly to the intersection determined by the rule of thirds. Why did I choose the upper left intersection? When photographing I also considered the orientation and course of direction of the goat. Usually it is better to leave more space in front of the subject than behind it.

Rule of Thirds Example 2

Rule of thirds in landscape photo

Picture 3. Horizon which is placed low emphasizes the sky.

Rule of thirds can also be adapted by forgetting the intersections and by thinking about the location of the lines. Horizontal lines are often good places for the horizon. This often yields to better results than placing the horizon into the middle of the frame.

In the picture 3, the sun is placed into the intersection of the lines and the horizon is placed near to the lower horizontal line to emphasize the interesting sky. According to the rule of thirds there would have been two places for the horizon. When making the decision I compared the interest between the sky and the sea. In this case the sky was much more interesting to look at so I wanted to emphasize it. Horizon placed up would have emphasized the sea.