The Third is the Word

I want to talk about composition this week, specifically a basic guideline called, "The Rule of Thirds". Now, I call this "rule" a guideline, because . . . well, that's just what it is.  There are no rules in composition, only suggestions and starting off points. You can compose an image any way you want as each image is like a snowflake - unique unto itself.  One rule may seem to apply, but breaking that rule may reveal a more beautiful image.

That being said, if you want just a simple jumping off point, the "Thirds" is an excellent board to dive off of.

What is this Rule of Thirds? Something out of some fantasy, hobbit book?


Imagine you're looking through your viewfinder, or at a scene if you wish, and imagine dividing that scene into thirds with two horizontal and two vertical lines.  You have nine boxes and 4 intersection points:

Those cute wittle little dots are what we are concerned with here.  The theory is that if you place points of interests in the intersections or along the lines your photo will magically become more balanced and will enable the beloved viewer the ability to interact with it more fluidly. Studies performed by really smart people have shown that when viewing images people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points (our cute little dots) most naturally rather than the center.

Case in point:

This is a shot of beautiful Jessica.  Her image was composed against the thirds rule and placed smack dab in the middle of the shot.

Not a very flattering way to view an image, eh?

Now, let's apply the thirds rule and see what we get.

Much better!  The eye can freely roam around the image and appreciate both the positive and negative spaces.

Here is another example:

The water drop immediately becomes the main subject as it's in conjunction with one of the intersecting lines. The apple simply becomes the frame.

Ok, now let's take the training wheels off (the lines) and show you some other examples:

Hope this little lesson gives you a basic start in composition.  Whenever you're viewing photos out there, look for this very simple rule guideline, proclaim, "That's the "Rule of Thirds"!" to a crowded art gallery and you will be looked upon in awe and admiration.