The rule of thirds – Better photography

Ask any photographer for a basic composition advice and they’ll tell you to use the … Rule Of Thirds, Bro. Rule of Thirds? Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds. What does it mean? Where does it come from? Is it really a rule at all? The Rule of Thirds is one of the most […]

The rule of thirds – Better photography

The rule of thirds – Better photography

Ask any photographer for a basic composition advice and they’ll tell you to use the …

Rule Of Thirds, Bro.

Rule of Thirds?rule of thirds

Rule of Thirds.

The Rule of Thirds. What does it mean? Where does it come from? Is it really a rule at all?

The Rule of Thirds is one of the most widely known and fundamental ideas in composition. While it’s often thought of as basic composition, understanding the principles behind it means knowing when to use it and when to break it.

Creating visual flow

If you haven’t heard of the Rule of Thirds here’s the 10 second version. Divide your frame up into a tic-tac-toe board, then place the important elements of your composition along those thirds. Either horizontally, vertically, or on the intersection points. It’s a simple way to start making effective compositions, but what’s the real reason that it works? Well, the Rule of Thirds effectively accomplishes two main things. First, it allows you to unambiguously direct attention in your photos, creating visual flow. Start here, flow here. Start here, flow here. Start here, flow here. If your subjects were more centred your eye wouldn’t know which way to travel.

what the most interesting and important part of a scene

Secondly, and possibly more importantly, the Rule of Thirds lets you tell people what the most interesting and important part of a scene is. This is why landscape photos often put the horizon on the top third, because it’s saying “This photo is about the landscape, so I’m giving it most of the weight of the photo.” The sky, while it may be beautiful, is less important to understanding this specific place than the landscape itself is; so the sky only gets a third of the weight of the photo. You’ll see this over and over and over in landscape photography.

Yeah, but Bro, what if to me the sky is the most interesting and important part of the scene?

Whats the most interesting thing?

Aha! Well, this is where things get really cool; and where you realized that the Rule of Thirds actually has very little to do with thirds at all and lots more to do with what you find interesting. Say you do have a spectacular sky and a bland landscape, then you should give the sky most of the weight in your photo. That’s you saying “Look at this!” The more interesting you think something is, the more weight you should give it in your images. Even to the point where the sky or the landscape might become a teeny sliver in the photo. If you have two things of equal importance in your photo, then give them equal weight. This is why reflection shots work so well when the horizon is smack bang in the middle of the frame. The Rule of Thirds is not about actual numbers, but rather about balancing the proportion of interesting elements in your frame. Once you’ve realized that then your compositions will begin to show the world in the way that you see it.

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