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The Basics of Composition – Rule of Thirds

What makes famous artwork and photographs great? There are many basic rules that a professional uses as a guide when creating, and usually the first rule is called the Rule of Thirds. This very simple rule of design can be applied to your photographs making them more interesting than the everyday snapshot.

(photo is correct use of the rule of thirds)

THE RULE OF THIRDS – by definition

“The rule states that an image can be divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The four points formed by the intersections of these lines can be used to align features in the photograph. Proponents of this technique claim that aligning a photograph with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the photo than simply centering the feature would.” – “Rule of thirds.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Simply put, an image, where the main subject of a photograph (be it a person, an object or the horizon line) is put at either/both the vertical third or horizontal third of the frame, has more impact than simply placing the subject in the middle. In a photograph where a person is the subject, the rule of thirds says to move the camera and place the person on the right or left side of the middle. Or, in the case of a portrait, the eyes should be 1/3 from the top of the frame in most cases.

(this photo is an example of no use of thirds rule)
Another application of the rule of thirds is in landscape photography. Though it may sometimes work, the horizon line should rarely ever be at the absolute center of a photograph. Another note, the horizon should not go directly through a persons head. It simply looks odd and distracts from the subject.

1st photo is correct placement of horizon and second is not.

So, next time you are out shooting nature or photographing your family, keep in mind the rule of thirds. You just may find that your images spark more positive compliments.


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