Photo from Bayrook Photography and available to purchase from Gippsland Country Photography.

Knowledge of the rule of thirds can dramatically increase the frequency in which other people find your photographic images pleasing to the eye. Historically it has been noted that photographs where the main subject, horizon or the point in the picture that you want a persons eye drawn to is positioned using the rule of thirds, is generally more pleasing to the eye.

To understand the rule of thirds just take an A4 piece of paper and draw 2 vertical lines that divide it into equal thirds then repeat the process with 2 horizontal lines. You will end up with something that looks like a naughts and crosses game.

Now imagine that the piece of paper is the view finder in your camera. The lines themselves and the points where they intersect are the powerful points in an image.

Being aware of the rule of thirds will prompt you to analise your subject and try to identify what is the most interesting feature that you are trying to capture.

Following are some ideas that may help you apply the rule of thirds:

  • Position the horizon on the top line or the bottom line of a seascape or landscape in the view finder.If the most intriging aspect of the image is the sky use the bottom line, if the land or sea is the dynamic factor use the top line.
  • For a portrait try positioning the subjects eyes on or near to the top line.
    Use a point where the lines intersect to position the feature of main interest in your picture.
    When a person is on the beach or out in the open when photographing them try positioning them looking into the image on one of the vertical lines.
  • Have a look at some of your own images and see if by cropping them using your knowledge of the rule of thirds you can make them more pleasing to the eye.

Finally, dont let the rule of thirds stand in the way of your inner creativity. Rules can be broken if you have good reason.

Have a look at the two samples to see if you can work out how the rule of thirds has been used.



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