Understanding Composition: The Rule of Thirds

March 16, 2011 · 6 comments

in Inspiration,Scapes,Travel,Tutorials

The basic principle of the Rule of Thirds, is to imagine a grid dividing your image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. The purpose of the Rule of Thirds is to add balance and interest to your image.

Use this imaginary grid when composing your photograph to position the most important elements of your scene along these lines, or at the points where the lines intersect. Studies have shown that if you place points of interest in these intersections, or along the lines, your photo will become more balanced, and allow the viewer to interact with it more naturally.

When composing your photograph, intentionally ask yourself, “What are the points of interest” and “Where will I place them?”

When shooting landscapes, try to place one of the horizons along one of the imaginary lines.

It is also good practice to remember the Rule of Thirds when you crop your photos in image editing software.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Champ June 22, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Hi Rikki! I’m a beginner photographer and discovered your site moments ago. Thanks for your valuable information on understanding the rule of thirds technique. I have one question for you… In applying the rule of thirds technique with regards to people, would you opt for aligning the intersection of the right upper quadrant with the persons eye or would you make an alignment using the background of your shot?

rikki hibbert June 23, 2011 at 8:41 am

Hi Champ, thanks for the great feedback, much appreciated :-) Using the Rule of Thirds for people is completely adaptable for different situations. Using the upper right quadrant to position the eye would definitely work (and would the other quadrants). Also play around with using the camera in portrait orientation. Remember the Rule of Thirds is more of a guideline than a set rule, and can be adapted. Generally use the intersecting points for your subject matter (ie: the face) and then align the background on the imaginary lines. Hope this makes sense! Feel free to post any additional questions!

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