What Is The Rule Of Thirds in Photography?
COMPOSING BETTER PICTURES | Darrin Henry
The Rule of Thirds is a simple and effective composition technique for capturing better photographs. It’s one of the first things you’ll learn on any photography course and it soon becomes second nature.
The Rule of Thirds: Use Your Imagination
Imagine two vertical and two horizontal lines, equally spaced, in your camera’s viewfinder or on the display screen. The lines divide the view into 3 horizontal segments and three vertical segments. Now visualise hotspots at the four points where the lines intersect. See diagram below.
When framing your picture identify the main point of interest then position this on one (or more) of the four hotspots. This usually, naturally, create a more pleasing composition, better than placing your main point of interest dead centre.
The Rule Of Thirds: Crossing The Line
The vertical and horizontal lines themselves are also useful guidelines. With landscapes place the horizon on either of the two horizontal lines rather than across the middle. Which line you choose depends on the picture content. If in doubt try both, that’s the beauty of digital photography.
The vertical lines are helpful when composing buildings or cityscapes. Again, select the key feature and arrange over or near the vertical lines. Make sure the camera is straight/level, then shoot.
In a nutshell, that’s the Rule of Thirds explained. Like I said, it’s simple. Combining the hotspots and dividing lines will become automatic after a while.
The whole point is to make your photographs more interesting to look at afterwards. This may just for your own use or for a wider audience. Either way, create a visual journey for the eyes.
Think of how you view new pictures yourself; your eye is drawn to the key subject first and then it wanders through the rest of the photograph exploring the smaller details. So use the rule of thirds to help create an interesting picture for someone else to explore.
The Rule Of Thirds: Robots Are OK
Finally – sometimes it’s ok to break the rules!
One of my favourite TV shows at the moment is Mr Robot. The producers and camera operators often defy all framing conventions, almost as if a child is operating the camera, but it’s kind of quirky and it works. So remember, it’s ok to break or bend the rules at times, but if you do it’s always good to know what the rules are in the first place!
Good luck. Hopefully the Rule Of Thirds makes more sense to you than ten minutes ago!