Discussing the Rule of Thirds

I thought I would spend some time and talk about how to improve your photos with composition techniques that have helped me and I still use today. 1 rule I use quite often is the Rule Of Thirds

Let’s examine the Rule of Thirds. Think of the screen on the back of your camera with Tic Tac Toe lines on it. 2 lines going horizontal and 2 lines going vertical.

You can see in the image below, the Tic Tac Toe boxes divide the photo into thirds. The green tree is on the third line, the red tree is on a third line, the top and bottom of the yellow trees are on a third. If the green tree was in the center, you may cut off most or all of the red tree. If the top of the yellow trees were any higher, they would be cut off and too much grass would be showing. If the top of the trees was farther down, the hill in the background would take up too much of the photo causing it to be unbalanced.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

Let’s take a look at another photo of a bird I took. The bird is on the right third looking into the photo. The direction the subject is facing is an important part of the Rule of Thirds. The left 2/3s of the frame would distracting if the bird was looking to the right. Looking into the photo gives the left 2/3 a purpose.

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You can see in the image below, the bird is looking out of the frame and it just looks wrong. There is no story being told and it makes you wonder why the right side of the image is even there.

Wrong side of the photo.

Wrong side of the photo.

Photographing a building uses the same method. The building should be facing into the frame like the barns in the photos below.

Building looks into the photo.

Building looks into the photo.

Palouse Country Barn BW.jpg

You can see in the last photo the barn looks into the photo, is on the right third and the grass is in the bottom third. The reason I put the sky in the top 2/3 of the frame is because it was more interesting than the grass. If it was a plain blue sky, it would have only taken up the top 1/3.

Now that you know the basics to the Rule of Thirds, go out and practice. Just remember, rules are good to know and understand how to be used. However, don’t be afraid to break the rules while shooting and fill the frame with what you like.