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Photography Composition 1: Rules, Rules and More Rules

Photography composition and the rule of thirds.

This is a set of three articles regarding Photography Composition.  This is the first article and will focus on the ‘Rule of Thirds’.

The Second Article is here.

The Third Article is here.

When I first heard the term ‘Rule of Thirds‘, I thought ‘what!!! rules in taking a photo?‘.  Well as it turns out it is a way of composing a photo so it is pleasing to the eye and balanced.  When we take a photo we could easily just stick the subject smack in the middle of the photo but, as we will see, we can make the photo more appealing and nicer to look at following a few simples ideas.

Let us start with an image of a grid.

Rule of Thirds
Rule of Thirds

We can see we have four intersecting points.  The rule basically says to stick your object on one of these intersections.  I am sure I could make this super complicated but I won’t.  I will add that if it is a person you are taking a photo of,  try putting an eye on the intersection, not chopping off half of the head in the process.

The grid is a guide, it is not the only guide we use in composition but it is a good starting point.

Rule of thirds example 1
Rule of thirds example 1

 

Rule of thirds example 2
Rule of thirds example 2

 

Rule of thirds example 3
Rule of thirds example 3

 

Rule of thirds example 4
Rule of thirds example 4

 

Rule of thirds example 5
Rule of thirds example 5

 



 

The eyes tend to fall to one of these points and as you can see from the above photos,  the photos are quite pleasing and easy for the mind to digest.

Most cameras have an option to turn on grid display to help in composing the photo.  This is really worth using until it becomes natural to compose.

A point to add is putting the horizon on the top or bottom horizontal line will give a bigger sky or landscape but do not put the horizon right in the middle unless you really want to of course.  Secondly, the two upright lines we could put a person or a tree.  Experiment with this and in the next article, I will talk about symmetry and framing.

Remember, rules can be broken.

The Second Article is here.

The Third Article is here.

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19 thoughts on “Photography Composition 1: Rules, Rules and More Rules

  1. I didn’t know any of this until I started getting into photography. My husband is a keen photographer and was trying to teach me as I go. Its amazing how much of a difference a picture has when you apply the rule of thirds, but agree rules can be broken and I’m sure some amazing shots have been taken not using it 🙂 I must also check my camera for the grid it definitely sounds like a helpful tool

  2. The rule of thirds is certainly something that I try and abide by as much as possible, it works so well for the close up shots that you’ve shown here and I find that it really enhances landscape images (like the mountain range above) as well! Definitely a versatile technique which is handy to remember!

    Abbey 🙂

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