The Rule of Thirds: Photography Friday, Week 2

I'm excited Photography Friday has been so well received!

It became apparent very quickly, we need a place where people can share their photos, discuss what's working (and what's not), ask questions of other readers, etc.  As a result, I've opened a Flickr group called Twenty Four's Shutterbugs.  It's a public group, which means you're all invited to become group members, upload photos, join into (and lead) discussions, etc.

This group is for everyone who has an interest in photography.  You can be a total newbie to photography or a professional photographer.  Everyone, at every level, is welcome!

You can find the 24 Flickr group by clicking here.

The other thing I realized very quickly is the readers interested in Photography Friday have extremely varied levels of experience.  I thought today I'd cover a very basic, beginning, photography tip.  Some weeks the topics will be intermediate level or advanced.  I'll try to change it up so there will, hopefully, be something for everybody on different weeks.

The Rule of Thirds 

This is one of the most basic "rules" of photography, and yet like all photography rules, it's okay to break it sometimes.  I think of this rule merely as a composition guideline.  The rule suggests the best place in a photo to position your subject is usually at one of the points located one third of the way from the top/bottom/sides of the frame.

Ruleofthirds

The four points where the line intersects are key spots to position the subject of your photos.

The above grid also provides the photographer with four lines to use as guidelines in composing his/her shot.

Your photos will often be more interesting if you aren't centering the subject smack dab in the middle of the frame.  Ideally, the primary subject of your photo should be located where one of those four green dots are in the above grid.  Of course, this "rule" won't work if your subject is large.  It also isn't useful if your goal is to show symmetry or if having your subject centered is necessary to communicate what you want with your photo.

Let's compare this photo I shared with you a couple weeks ago:

_MG_2343_3
The ladybug is on the right third of the frame.  She takes up about two thirds of the space, leaving one third above her.

This is what the same photo would have looked like if I had centered the ladybug:

_MG_2343_3

I think the first ladybug photo is more interesting and pleasing to the eye.  

I use the Rule of Thirds a lot in landscape photography.  With a landscape, the subject is large, but the Rule of Thirds still comes into play.  Most good landscape shots have a foreground, a middle ground, and a background, with each taking up approximately one third of the frame.

_MG_2831
In the above photo the sand and the little girl are in the foreground, the rocks are in the middle ground and the sky is in the background.  Also, if you were to slide the grid of nine squares over my photo, you'd find the little girl located about one third of the way into the frame from the left side.  She isn't centered in the middle. 

This seems like a good time to mention two other landscape photography tips which go hand in hand with The Rule of Thirds.  First, avoid putting your horizon line dead center of your photos.  Is your photo of a beautiful sunset or sunrise?  If you're trying to draw attention to the sky, your horizon line should be towards the bottom third of your photo. 

_MG_1716
 

If it's a photo where the sky is not very important, put your horizon line around the top third of your shot.  

FlowrField
 

Second, make sure your horizon is straight and not tilted.  This seems pretty basic, but as a beginner it's easy to make this mistake.  Maybe you're so busy trying to capture the beautiful flowers, you don't even notice the boring horizon when you click the shutter.  Later you look at your photo and see this:

FlowrField_2

You can see what a difference a tilted horizon line makes when you compare those last two photos.  It should become second nature for you to shoot straight horizons and position them at the bottom or top third of your photos.

Yes, there are always exceptions – but, in general, you'll have more interesting photos if you follow the Rule of Thirds.  Add in the guidelines I've given you on your horizons and you'll be off to a good start on composing nice photos.

Here's one more example of a photo that demonstrates the Rule of Thirds fairly well.

Flowr2
The sky and ocean take up the top third (the background) of the photo, the buildings and trees the middle third (middle ground), and the flowers (the foreground) take up the bottom third of the photo.  In addition, the horizon is nice and straight which makes the whole photo more balanced and appealing to the eye.  Because it's a landscape photo the four intersection points on the grid are not as important.  However, if you slid the grid over this photo, you'd notice those four green dots are at key points even in a landscape photo such as this.

Once again, I invite all of you to join in and share your photos on Flickr.  I'd love to see you sharing shots to demonstrate the Rule of Thirds over the next week.  (Or perhaps shots which successfully break the rule!)

Have fun and happy shooting this weekend!

© Twenty Four At Heart

45 Responses to “The Rule of Thirds: Photography Friday, Week 2”

  1. Beth

    I’m so excited that you are speaking the photography language! I just signed up for your flickr group and I’ll upload some pictures later. I’ve challenged myself to take a picture everyday… and so far, so good. I’ve posted a picture for 91 days now (some are lame, some are getting there, some are pretty good).
    Your pictures are outstanding!

  2. Beth

    I’m so excited that you are speaking the photography language! I just signed up for your flickr group and I’ll upload some pictures later. I’ve challenged myself to take a picture everyday… and so far, so good. I’ve posted a picture for 91 days now (some are lame, some are getting there, some are pretty good).
    Your pictures are outstanding!

  3. Beth

    I’m so excited that you are speaking the photography language! I just signed up for your flickr group and I’ll upload some pictures later. I’ve challenged myself to take a picture everyday… and so far, so good. I’ve posted a picture for 91 days now (some are lame, some are getting there, some are pretty good).
    Your pictures are outstanding!

  4. WebSavvyMom

    –>Thanks for the tips. I take a lot of pictures and many of them aren’t very good but I keep trying. Thank God for digital cameras!
    ~deb thaxton

  5. WebSavvyMom

    –>Thanks for the tips. I take a lot of pictures and many of them aren’t very good but I keep trying. Thank God for digital cameras!
    ~deb thaxton

  6. WebSavvyMom

    –>Thanks for the tips. I take a lot of pictures and many of them aren’t very good but I keep trying. Thank God for digital cameras!
    ~deb thaxton

  7. Jan

    A wonderful explanation of the rule of thirds!
    I haven’t had a chance to join your Flickr group (that’ll teach me to take 3 1/2 days off from work), but I will – if not sometime today, then definitely this weekend, since Beloved leaves on yet another business trip Sunday morning and The Young One won’t get home from Texas until later Sunday afternoon.
    Wow…six whole hours to myself. That doesn’t happen very often…

  8. Jan

    A wonderful explanation of the rule of thirds!
    I haven’t had a chance to join your Flickr group (that’ll teach me to take 3 1/2 days off from work), but I will – if not sometime today, then definitely this weekend, since Beloved leaves on yet another business trip Sunday morning and The Young One won’t get home from Texas until later Sunday afternoon.
    Wow…six whole hours to myself. That doesn’t happen very often…

  9. Jan

    A wonderful explanation of the rule of thirds!
    I haven’t had a chance to join your Flickr group (that’ll teach me to take 3 1/2 days off from work), but I will – if not sometime today, then definitely this weekend, since Beloved leaves on yet another business trip Sunday morning and The Young One won’t get home from Texas until later Sunday afternoon.
    Wow…six whole hours to myself. That doesn’t happen very often…

  10. di

    Great beginner info! Happy Bunny Week-end!!
    Di
    The Blue Ridge Gal

  11. di

    Great beginner info! Happy Bunny Week-end!!
    Di
    The Blue Ridge Gal

  12. di

    Great beginner info! Happy Bunny Week-end!!
    Di
    The Blue Ridge Gal

  13. Christi

    Thank you!
    Ive heard of the rule of thirds and sort of understood it but this was really helpful.
    I GET IT now!

  14. Christi

    Thank you!
    Ive heard of the rule of thirds and sort of understood it but this was really helpful.
    I GET IT now!

  15. Christi

    Thank you!
    Ive heard of the rule of thirds and sort of understood it but this was really helpful.
    I GET IT now!

  16. Ginger

    Thank you! I never heard of this rule! i think it’s because I’m too lazy to actually read anything technical about photography. You, on the other hand, can make anything seem interesting. Now I’m going to have to go back through all my photos and look at them with a critical eye. I’m afraid most of my shots are smack dab in the center of the frame.

  17. Ginger

    Thank you! I never heard of this rule! i think it’s because I’m too lazy to actually read anything technical about photography. You, on the other hand, can make anything seem interesting. Now I’m going to have to go back through all my photos and look at them with a critical eye. I’m afraid most of my shots are smack dab in the center of the frame.

  18. Ginger

    Thank you! I never heard of this rule! i think it’s because I’m too lazy to actually read anything technical about photography. You, on the other hand, can make anything seem interesting. Now I’m going to have to go back through all my photos and look at them with a critical eye. I’m afraid most of my shots are smack dab in the center of the frame.

  19. middle-aged-woman

    I never knew there was a rule, I just knew that I liked my pix better when they looked like that! I love the photo Fridays, and I’ll pick some to load this afternoon!

  20. middle-aged-woman

    I never knew there was a rule, I just knew that I liked my pix better when they looked like that! I love the photo Fridays, and I’ll pick some to load this afternoon!

  21. middle-aged-woman

    I never knew there was a rule, I just knew that I liked my pix better when they looked like that! I love the photo Fridays, and I’ll pick some to load this afternoon!

  22. Kelly

    I never heard about this either.
    I have lots of photos with the horizon or subject smack in the center of the photo.
    Oops!

  23. Kelly

    I never heard about this either.
    I have lots of photos with the horizon or subject smack in the center of the photo.
    Oops!

  24. Kelly

    I never heard about this either.
    I have lots of photos with the horizon or subject smack in the center of the photo.
    Oops!

  25. Michelle Pixie

    Another great week! I knew the rule but I loved your explanation!! I have to tell you I start a photography class next week and you have helped to put me in a really great space for motivation. Thank you!

  26. Michelle Pixie

    Another great week! I knew the rule but I loved your explanation!! I have to tell you I start a photography class next week and you have helped to put me in a really great space for motivation. Thank you!

  27. Michelle Pixie

    Another great week! I knew the rule but I loved your explanation!! I have to tell you I start a photography class next week and you have helped to put me in a really great space for motivation. Thank you!

  28. Laura

    Thanks for the info on thirds…will definately look at things differently through the lens now!

  29. Laura

    Thanks for the info on thirds…will definately look at things differently through the lens now!

  30. Laura

    Thanks for the info on thirds…will definately look at things differently through the lens now!

  31. Jane

    I’m signing up for the Flickr group tonight and I’m sharing this with two friends who are more advanced than I am. So excited!!

  32. Jane

    I’m signing up for the Flickr group tonight and I’m sharing this with two friends who are more advanced than I am. So excited!!

  33. Jane

    I’m signing up for the Flickr group tonight and I’m sharing this with two friends who are more advanced than I am. So excited!!

  34. Pseudo

    You know I love your photos 24. Enjoyed reading the tips. I have been craving a better camera for sometime now. Ahhh.

  35. Pseudo

    You know I love your photos 24. Enjoyed reading the tips. I have been craving a better camera for sometime now. Ahhh.

  36. Pseudo

    You know I love your photos 24. Enjoyed reading the tips. I have been craving a better camera for sometime now. Ahhh.

  37. middle-aged-woman

    Now that I think about it, a photo that is just okay can be cropped to follow the rule, and turn something you like into something you love. This is especially important when the shot is not going to last very long…get the shot! You can adjust later. Thank heaven for digital cameras!

  38. middle-aged-woman

    Now that I think about it, a photo that is just okay can be cropped to follow the rule, and turn something you like into something you love. This is especially important when the shot is not going to last very long…get the shot! You can adjust later. Thank heaven for digital cameras!

  39. middle-aged-woman

    Now that I think about it, a photo that is just okay can be cropped to follow the rule, and turn something you like into something you love. This is especially important when the shot is not going to last very long…get the shot! You can adjust later. Thank heaven for digital cameras!

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