There was a time when photography was a hobby practiced only by a few. Cameras were expensive; the rolls of film that went into them even more so. Each standard film roll had about 36 or so exposures – which meant that a photographer could take 36 photos, after which they had to give in the roll for processing and purchase a new roll for the next 36 photos. Needless to say, photographers had to ensure that they did not “waste” an exposure with trial shots. Their photo composition, therefore, had to be near perfect.
Fast forward to today. Nearly everyone from the age of 8 to 80 has a mobile phone in their possession, and the phones only keep getting powerful year after year. The mobile camera is perhaps one of the most used apps on the device – this has solved the original problem of a camera being out of reach for many but brought a different issue to the fore. Now there are billions and billions of photos online with even more viewers from around the world viewing and rating these photos. One has to be an outstanding photographer to stand above the crowd.
One of the fundamental principles that are taught in photography classes is the importance of photo composition. And one of the most simple techniques that helps with good composition is the rule of thirds.
What Is the Rule of Thirds Photography?
The rule of thirds definition is really very simple. Every beginner photographer can immediately start employing the rule of thirds and must do so if they wish to get the most out of their camera. A rule of thirds photo is one which can essentially be thought of as nine equal imaginary grids. The photo is divided along with its height and width into equal sections using lines. A rule of thirds composition then requires that the most important objects in the photo capture be placed at the points where these lines intersect. Taking pictures using the rule of thirds grid can turn ordinary compositions into extraordinary ones.
Some Tips to Compose Rule of Thirds Pictures
Rule of Thirds Photography Tip #1
You can put technology to good use when it comes to practicing the rule of thirds photography. Nearly every phone or standalone camera in the market today come with software that controls the different camera functions. One of these is the Grid function, which shows a grid on your screen while you are taking a photo. This is a great way to practice composing your image for the rule of thirds photography. When you wish to make the Grid go away, which you eventually will as you get the hang of the rule of thirds, you simply turn the Grid off.
Rule of Thirds Photography Tip #2
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When capturing an object and a background, you want to ensure that the object is the main focus of your composition. The rule of thirds helps with this scenario. You should try to place your object at one of the four points of intersection of the four lines on the grid. Your object will be towards one of the sides of your composition, but the results of the final composition will be dramatic. You will see how the focus suddenly shifts to your object. This rule of thirds photography trick is often used by professionals to create stunning photographs.
Rule of Thirds Photography Tip #3
A similar rule of thirds photography trick as the earlier one applies to landscape or seascape compositions. Quite often, you have to capture a scene that contains the sky meeting the land/water at the horizon. Your natural tendency would be to have a composition that allocates the top half of the photo to the sky and the bottom half to the land or water. Instead, you must use the 2/3rd rule here – i.e., 2/3rd of the picture should be allocated to the more important of the two landscapes. So if you are capturing the setting sun, then ensure that the sky occupies 2/3rd of the top of the photo – the result will be fabulous.
**Must You Always Follow the Rule of Thirds Photography?**
The answer is no. As much as photography is about certain rules, it is equally about being creative with your compositions. Rule of thirds photography is recommended by the pros to ensure that your compositions end up being better than they otherwise would. But there are instances where you would have to break these rules. For example, if you are taking macro (close-up) shots capturing your subject’s intricate details (for example, wrinkles on a face, or designs on a flower), then your composition might end up looking better if it were smack in the center of the photo. Or you may have to capture your subject along with its shadows on camera – in which case the rule of thirds might not be the best option. Often times, when the story or idea behind your subject is compelling, you might have to discount the rule of thirds photography to get your ideal capture. There might be other instances when you have to capture a fast scene, as a race, in which case you might not get a chance to implement the rule of thirds. For a beginner, though, we recommend that you do not break the rules of thirds right from the beginning. Master it first, then choose situations where you might want to break the rules. Photography is as much an art as a science. There are well-defined techniques that can be employed to enhance your photo captures. Rule of thirds photography is one such effortless technique that almost anyone can pick up. For individuals just getting into photography, this can and must be a technique to master. By using the rule of thirds photography, you can turn your average photographs into great ones. Shaw Academy offers an online photography course that teaches you not only the rule of thirds photography but other interesting techniques as well.