Rule Of Thirds


Perhaps the basic of all tools on the road to Mastery of in terms of photographic composition is the ‘Rule of Thirds‘.


The “Rule of Thirds” one of the first things that budding digital photographers learn about in classes on photography and rightly so as it is the basis for well balanced and interesting shots.


I will say right up front however that rules are meant to be broken and ignoring this one doesn’t mean your images are necessarily unbalanced or uninteresting. However a wise person once told me that if you intend to break a rule you should always learn it first to make sure your breaking of it is all the more effective!

What makes this tool so useful?  Well, the thing is you can apply with any camera you have - be that mobile phone, a 'point and shoot' camera, a Bridge Camera, a DSLR - it really doesn't matter and if you apply it well - not only will it help you in terms of shots and compositions but as you get more experienced it will blow your mind as you will start to notice just how many people don't use it and then wonder why their shots aren't as good as they could be.

So how does it work? Well, basically you are going to imagine a huge noughts and crosses board (or a big tic, tac, toe board) in front of you the next time you go to take a shot. What you are looking to do is position the main point of interest at any place where those lines intersect with each other as shown by the red crosses in the diagram on the left.

What does that look like in practice? Well let me show you how one of my students nailed an 'on location' shot.

Here you can clearly see that the lovely model Ilona is to the left. It is not always about getting it perfect you can crop an image down later if you have to - however a little cropping in Photoshop, (or even PowerPoint if you want to be cheap as chips) will sort this out and centralise her more to the frame.

But oh yes it gets better...


What if you turned the frame (the board) so it laid diagonally across the image you were trying to take? Yes indeed the Shard is on an intersection - and this snap shows one of the few times the Thirds Rule can be broken - that is because there are what we call 'lead in lines' from the pavement and the building making it go from corner to corner.


City Shoot


Lead in lines are another weapon of the photographer. Why? Because the eye tends to follow the lines. Imagine looking at train tracks going off into the distance. How about a road?  Positioning a model or a point of interest where these lines collide can bring some excitement and drama to a shot and the Rule of Thirds can almost ignored as if the model in this shot was to the left or right, it would have detracted from the shot. Both these examples