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Perhaps the most well know principle 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!

The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts. As follow

As shown in this vertical shot my composition is so that the tree trunk is not centered allowing the eye to travels around my picture making the moss even more pleasing to the eye.

Another example I shot is horizonal using the same rule.

The rule of thirds was the first thing of basic photography I learned in my composition. I never new why a photo was so appealing until I used this rule in MOST all of my compositions. Remember though that all rules can be broken as long as your eye will still see all that your picture has to offer such as full frame shots, etc. Just remember that centering your subject it is best to use the rule of thirds.

You can find many tatorials in your search engine on the subject.

Would love to know your thoughts on this subject. If you are new to photography go out and shoot something using the rule of thirds and tell me if it was helpful to you.

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Replies to This Discussion

I think the rule of thirds is a very good starting point.  Keep in mind that not all pictures will fit that mold but generally stay away from centering the subject if possible.  In this picture the main train nearly fits into the proper third area.  It also has a counterpoint which is another train going the opposite direction.  This makes it more interesting as it engages the viewers mind.

A very nice image Don. i really like the composition, of two trains, both occupyng a third of frame but at the same time creating a balance in image. as i mentioned in my reply to Jenice, balance is another important principal of design which needs a separate discussion.

well done and i esp like the BW for this old engines, give it a timeless appeal

Can't agree more Jenice.

Rule of  third as you said, In reality it is merely a simplistic generalization of the Golden mean, first attributed to Pythagoras by the Ancient greeks. It only deals with “Cartesian co-ordinate” placement of objects within the frame and ignores any influence of Center, Armature, Perception, the Elements of Art and Principles of Design.

I some times feel, it should be renamed as principal or suggestion for any one trying to compose an image. A novice is likely to place object of interest in dead center in all images. This 'rules gives a choice. Once it is learned, one can decide ,when and how to to deviate from it

some images don't work on rule of third. following is an example where rule of third would have made this image imbalanced( this is not my image, i took it from the net and don't know the name of photographer)

There are many other ways of placing the objects which are less well known, like V or L formation formation or placing objects in an actual or implied triangle.

All these are just help and guidance for alternatives

Having said that , i must say that your images are very nice, it not only follows rule of third but the heavy trunk on one side with bushy branches hanging on the other side create a balance in image (concept of balance as an principal of design needs a separate tutorial)

will come to that too

Thanks for sharing your pictures and your ideas 

The rule of thirds is always hard for because I was always uses to centering photos but I am learning.

:-). Janice, once you are used to use it, you would enjoy the choice of using different options of composing your shot.

in my following picture, i used two plates, in two different thirds of frame, and you see it has made an interesting composition,rather than placing them in center

Check the manual that came with your camera.  Many have a view finder option that places a grid over what you see through the lens.  If you select that option, it becomes more difficult NOT to use the rule of thirds.

Yes that is a good practical tips to use while when one is composing the image

Very nice, this is one of the images which can be composed only by placing at the center. rule of third would imbalance it as in the above picture of penguin.

nice example to drive a point home

I'm really loving this Group. There is a lot of knowledge being shared which I believe those who are not up to speed would find very helpful in their learning process.

But what is "Photographic Art?" I would enjoy reading more about this aspect and what everyone feels are the important factors for this style of Art.


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