Many of the visual arts, such as painting and graphic design use the rule of thirds as a general rule of thumb – even scrapbooking! (see Christy Riopel‘s article on page 132 in our Fall 2010 issue of Canadian Scrapbooker magazine) The same holds true for photography.
The rule of thirds (or principle of thirds) states ”that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.” (Wikipedia)
Well, in layman’s terms, it simply means that if you mentally divide your image into a 3×3 grid, your points of interest should be placed at either the intersection points or along the horizontal or vertical lines. This will created a balanced photo, allowing the reader to view it in a natural way – studies have shown that the eyes have a tendency to start at these intersection points, rather than the centre so using the rule of thirds creates an image that is pleasing to the viewer and will easily engage them.
This photo engages the viewer, not only because of its’ adorable subject (love those little pigtails!), but because the focal point and points of interest are placed at an intersection point (subject’s eyes) or along the lines (subject, horizon, grass) as illustrated below:
Take the following photo, as another example:
While the monochromatic colour scheme and the starkness of the black on white are effective, the photo is static and uninspiring. But look what happens when I reframed the image, using the rule of thirds:
By zooming in on the image and shifting it to the left side, the tree is accentuated and the branches lead the eye across the image. It also eliminates any distracting background elements in the background.
As a side note, I could have made my aperture (f/stop) wider (i.e. smaller number, like f/2) to achieve a short depth of field. To do so, I would have had to increase my shutter speed (i.e. 1/8000th of a second) to achieve the same exposure. You can review the tutorial on Depth of Field here.
Here are a few more examples:
Some cameras offer a setting that displays a grid in the viewfinder to help the photographer line up their elements according to the rule of thirds.
So grab your camera, check your manual for a grid display setting and start viewing things in a different way today!
September 2010 photography assignment:
Using the September tutorial as a guide, photograph a subject or object using the rule of thirds. Line up your subject in various ways to get the most effective composition. As always, if you have any questions, please leave me a comment on this post, or email me.
Deadline: 11:59 pm EST, September 30th, 2010
Please submit your photo, using our submission form only, for a chance to be entered into our draw to win an awesome prize. Photos must have been taken between Sept. 7th and 30th, 2010. A randomly chosen entry will be drawn after the deadline. Please click HERE to review the rules regarding this draw BEFORE submitting. Please note – submissions that are not relative to the tutorial and/or do not abide by these rules will not be posted on the blog, or entered into the draw. PLEASE remember that your submitted photos should be sized to 72dpi, and at least 500 pixels wide. Don’t forget to include your camera settings, including camera used, f/stop, aperture and ISO for your image in the Comments section of the submisson form! Submissions that do not include this info may not be posted on the blog.
But that’s not all you could win… stay tuned for details (to follow shortly!) on our big one-year blog-iversary contest for a chance to be published in Canadian Scrapbooker and to win a Cinch!!