Wikipedia describes the Rule Of Thirds as a ‘rule of thumb’ or guideline which applies to the process of composing visual images such as designs, films, paintings, and photographs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds).
In the image below you can see the frame has been divided into 9 equal parts (2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines) with them intersecting at 4 different points towards the center of the frame. These 4 points are where the viewer’s eyes tend to go first when viewing an image…because of this, we want to place the most interesting aspect of our images in or near these areas.
As a rule of thumb, we want to keep anything of interest out of the dead center area of the frame. When you are holding the camera up to your eye, what are the most interesting components of the frame? What do you want to your image to be about? Is it the little girl in the red dress, or the abandoned house up on the rock ledge? Take the time to think about theses things. Don’t rush yourself. With time, and a lot of practice, this will become 2nd nature to you. Lets look at a few photos and talk about why the composition works.
We were shooting in one of the most beautiful locations, with an incredible chapel, and while I wanted to include the structure in the image, I didn’t want it to overpower the newlyweds. With this in mind, I composed the image so that the couple was in the lower corner, while the building structure was coming in from the right, leading the viewer’s eyes to them. Had I centered the couple in my frame, I would have lost the strong lines of the chapel leading the viewer’s straight to the Bride and Groom.
Using negative space can be a wonderful tool in creating strong composition. I wanted the main focus here to be of the couple’s kiss, so I positioned them, in camera, to be in the upper right area of my frame.
Here is an example of using the horizon line (where the grass meets the sky) to strengthen the composition of the image. While looking through the viewfinder, I placed the horizon line at the bottom third of the frame, with the little girl off to the right. This gives your viewers a feel for the depth of the image, while using the rule of thirds on your horizon line, as well as your subject.
When photographing toddlers, or any fast paced subject, we don’t always get it right in camera, and that is okay! The wonderful world of digital photography and editing software allows us to take a poorly composed image and turn it into a much stronger final product. For example, this little guy’s face lands exactly in the middle of the frame, and to be honest, it is very, very boring. I want the first thing my viewer (his Mom or Dad) to notice is his adorable face…not the fence post. A simple crop can change the entire composition, thus creating a stronger image.
With all this being said, rules are meant to be broken, right? It is good to have a solid understanding of why the rules are important, but knowing how to break them, and make it work, is just as important as the original rule! In the image above, he is in the center of the frame, but leaving it like that does nothing for the final product. There is nothing else in the frame that makes it okay. Lets look at a few images where the center composition, and ignoring the Rule of Thirds, works.
Using Leading Lines:
The power of the leading lines drawing our viewer’s eyes directly into the center of the frame, counteract the fact that the subject is in the center. (Be sure and check in next week to learn more about using leading lines!!)
While my subjects are in the center of the frame, the negative space, and the motion of them running into the camera, keep the overall composition strong.
Strong Angles and Perspectives:
Both subjects here fall in the center frame, but the wide angles, and minimal background details, we are able to pull it off.
Remember, knowing the rule is extremely important as it does play a HUGE part in a strong image…but, knowing the rule also means you will understand how to break it successfully!
WEEK 7 CHALLENGE: This week your challenge is to use the Rule of Thirds to create a strong image. I want you to put all of the things you have learned so far into play on this image (exposure, use your favorite lighting, etc.). I want to see your BEST work knowing what you have learned so far! Go like the Kensie M Photography Facebook Page and post your favorite from the week there! We can't wait to see what you are working on. And remember we love questions, so feel free to post them in the comments section!
By the time she was 14, Lora had lived in 6 different states, went to 3 different high schools and was the typical middle child with 13 siblings…that is typical, right? She is the most adaptable human being on the planet and loves to take things as they come. Change is refreshing and she loves the challenge it offers. She is a single mama to two sweet little boys and a slightly out-of-her-mind beagle mix. Lora is a Colorado resident and has never been so in love with any part of the country! Her day typically starts with 3 cups of coffee and ends with some sort of whiskey…or falling asleep pathetically early. She's a huge fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm, red-dirt country music, (new found love) of rock climbing and adding things to her bucket list. She has been in the photography industry for the last 5 years and it has been an incredible ride. She is an open book and loves sharing what she has learned in this crazy adventure! You can check out her website here and be sure and go like her Facebook page here! Also, Lora teaches one of the most fantastic editing workshops I know of, so be sure and go check it out and sign up, it runs in July, so sign up soon!