The "Rule of Thirds" is trickier than it looks

Started Aug 14, 2010 | Discussions thread
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jezsik
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The "Rule of Thirds" is trickier than it looks
Aug 14, 2010

In "Redux: The Rule of Thirds," I sought to revisit one of the most successful composition techniques in art. If you've studied photography, you already know this technique, but if you have not, a visit to wikipedia is in order. "... an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections."

Unfortunately, a lot of people think that so long as any subject falls on one of these "thirds," or the subject is not in the middle, it adheres to this rule. That's simply not the case. Note also that just because a picture follows the rule, it does not make it a good photo; it just generally makes it better than one with a subject in the center of the frame.

Trying to create a photo using the rules of thirds composition is harder than you imagine. Our brains are designed to put the subject in the middle of our vision and breaking out of that takes some doing. There's nothing wrong with taking a photo and cropping it later, at least you're making the attempt.

Here are a couple examples of images that generally adhere to the rule of thirds. The lines, superimposed on the image, make it easier to see how it works.

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