Understanding the Rule of Thirds

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Framing | 0 comments

When you begin learning about photography (and visual composition in general), one of the first lessons is the “rule of thirds.” While it is more of a guideline rather than a hard rule that needs to be followed unwaveringly, the rule of thirds is incredibly important to master for anyone who hopes to take professional-grade photographs.

The rule of thirds is rather simple. When framing a shot, imagine the image having a “tic-tac-toe” grid over it. That is, two vertical lines equally distant from the edge as well as two similar horizontal lines. These lines and where they intersect are important guides and experimenting with where your photograph’s subject lies upon them can improve your photography skills dramatically.

The idea is to have important aspects of a photograph lie upon these lines, especially at their intersections. This is because the human eye has a natural tendency to be drawn to those parts of an image. For example, it is almost always a good idea to put a photograph’s horizon exactly on one of the horizontal lines. For images focusing on the sky, such as a picture of a sunset, the horizon should go along the bottom horizontal line to emphasize that the sky is the main area of the photograph.

One strong effect can be putting a person’s  body along a vertical line, with their face at one of the upper intersections. Take a look at this article to see the effects that good and poor use of the rule of thirds can have on your photographs and then experiment on your own to see what works best for you!

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