I’m sure there are many newcomers to photography who are just not satisfied with their photos. Are you one of them? Perhaps you’ve not discovered the beauty of the Rule of Thirds.
In this article, I will expound on the Rule of Thirds and also provide ideas on how to use it to improve your composition.
What Is Rule of Thirds and How It Works?
Before I begin, have a look at the image below.
Now, the Rule of Thirds composition is accomplished by visualizing the image into 9 equal parts, divided by 2 equally spaced horizontal lines and 2 equally spaced vertical lines.
The points where the lines intersect will then be used to align the photograph, making the photograph look more interesting.
Have problem visualizing? Some cameras actually have an option to display the Rule of Thirds grid on the LCD / viewfinder. Yup! There is, such as the Fujifilm Finepix S7000 (see the LCD on the article banner?).
It’s not a huge matter of concern if your camera doesn’t have such features. i Just learn to estimate the boxes in your viewfinder and you’ll get it eventually.
How Does Rule of Thirds Help?
Let’s have a look at what photos look like before applying the Rule of Thirds and after applying the Rule of Thirds.
While these are not the best of my pictures, I’m sure they’re able to get the point through. 🙂
Observe how the flower is now emphasized, with a spacious green background to add to the comfortable feel of nature.
The player is now emphasized, it wouldn’t make sense to emphasize him on the left side since that will leave a bunch of space behind the subject that adds no value to the composition. Furthermore the player was running towards the left side of the picture, so ideally the composition should have him on the right while showing the space he’s running to.
The macaw was at the center of the photo, however by positioning it to the cross-points, you’ll see that it immediately gets better emphasis. On the other side (the cross-points on the left), the macaw’s interests (the leaves) are emphasized as well!
See it better? See how the cross-points on the left emphasized the secondary subject while the cross-points on the right emphasized the primary subject?
Now this is an interesting picture. It already looks great on its own, with the red bridge being near one of the cross-points.
However the picture turned out way better with a little more effort in composition. You now have the subject at the cross-point, emphasizing the bridge and it’s reflection on the calm waters but at the same time the lines actually separate the background (hills and skies), the nearer background (trees / greens) and the foreground (the lake and the beautiful reflection).
Side Note : Did you know that the lake photo above won a contest? Yup, 1st place. 😀 No it’s not in my gallery yet, and it wasn’t taken with a Digital SLR either!
A Few Things In Mind.
Take note that the subject you wish to emphasize does not exactly have to be on the cross-point of the lines to make use of Rule of Thirds. The idea is to have the point of interest being close to the cross-points.
So, now that you know the Rule of Thirds, does this mean you should use it all the time? Well no, not exactly so. The Rule of Thirds is meant to help you in your photographic composition BUT not the only way to compose. 🙂
Take a look at my flickr gallery, you’ll see that many shots look great even without applying Rule of Thirds. On the other hand some of the product shots in my hardware reviews are done with Rule of Thirds. 🙂
Go Forth and Get Good Photos
So there ya have it, the Rule of Thirds. Now that you know it, use it!
In fact, try using the Rule of Thirds on your old photos and see if it brings the magic out of it. 🙂 The beauty of digital photography is that you are able to crop what you’ve captured to improve composition.
Do you know anyone who could benefit from this knowledge? Just send them this page by using the “Send this article to a friend” below.
UPDATE : 2014
I wrote the article back in 2007 when I just started photography. Since then I’ve progressed to be an established commercial photographer and even have clients from outside of Malaysia. 😀
– http://www.brianchong.com.my/ – this is where you get to view my accomplishments and accolades, and also sample of my interior photography works.
Do observe how I use Rule of Thirds for my composition.