One of the easiest ways to make your photography more appealing is to follow the rule of thirds for composition. Now that you know how to change your focal point that won’t be a problem.
What is the Rule of Thirds?
The rule of thirds is a composition guide to help you draw your viewer into your photo. You want to break your images into a 9 square grid. Think of it like a tic tac toe board. Some cameras offer this type of overlay when you look through your viewfinder.
If your camera does not, no worries. You can just imagine it there or use the focal points as a guide as well.
Ideally you want to place your subject on one of the thirds of the image. When using the rule of thirds photography as a guide your subject will not be in the dead center of your picture.
Points of Interest
There are four points of interest when using the rule of thirds and those are at the intersecting points. In an ideal situation you would place your subject on one of these points of interest. However, when photographing kids or something else that is moving it isn’t always possible. That is perfectly fine.
Remember this is just a guide. It isn’t a hard and fast rule. Plus, you can always adjust your image in post processing if you want to make sure your subject is on one of the points of interest.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s possible to have a mine point of interest and then place something else on an option intersecting point. This creates an invisible diagonal and since our minds are always looking for shapes this helps it to make sense to us.
One thing I have found very interesting after learning the rule of thirds is that television and movies use this rule as well. I mean, of course that makes sense, since it is all a form of photography. Have you ever noticed that when you are watching a show and they are showing a conversation between two people but only one person is on the screen at a time, they are in the right or left third?? Very interesting.
Several post-processing (PP) programs such as Photoshop and Lightroom (my new favorite) have a grid that can be displayed over your photo to check your composition. This is also very useful when cropping.
Ideally, you want the eyes to be where the vertical and horizontal line join. It’s easier said than done sometimes.
How to use the Rule of Thirds in Landscape Shots
Landscape shots don’t have a clear subject so it makes it a bit more of a challenge to know what to put on the points of interests. When shooting landscape images I challenge you to put the horizon on the upper or lower third.
In fact, each time you shoot a landscape shot consider taking one shot of each. Here are a few examples below of landscape shots using the rule of thirds.
These two shots show you the importance of trying the horizon on both the upper and lower third as one is stronger than the other but I wouldn’t have captured it if I hadn’t challenged myself to try both.
Rule of Thirds Examples
You want your subject’s eyes or focus to be in the right or left third.
You want your subject’s eyes or focus is in the top or bottom third.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your subject is “looking into the frame”. You want there to be empty space for your subject to look at. Same thing applies if if your subject is moving. You want to give them room to “go”.
Looking into the frame:
Looking out of the frame: Do not do.
Leaving room to “go”
Please remember that if you take a photo and the subject isn’t looking into the frame or isn’t in a third of a picture, that doesn’t mean you have to trash it. Some of my favorite pictures of my kids aren’t technically correct and they are breaking the rules. Who cares! I love them anyway.
Speaking of kids, you can teach this composition rule to them too! Read more about how to involve your children here: Photography for Kids
Grab your camera and start practicing. Come back on Friday to join in the Picture Share so we can see your amazing pictures!!!