How to use the rule of thirds

How to Effectively Use the Rule of Thirds in Photography

Considered to be an essential photography technique, the 'Rule of Thirds' helps you take better pictures. It takes patience and a little over mere judgment to put the focus in the right direction. Let's learn more about the rule of thirds in this Buzzle article.
A good photograph...
...communicates with you, making your eyes want to linger longer on the focus.

Want to be a good photographer? Master the Rule of Thirds, it is that simple. The rule of thirds basically helps place the focus away from the center. Surprised? You better be, the rule is that the eye likes to see pictures that convey motion even though they are predominantly static.

What is the first thing that attracts you to a picture? Why is it that a certain aspect and not the entire picture catches your fancy? The answer is simple, it is the natural tendency of the eye to be instantly drawn to the focal point of the picture.

The eye likes things that are placed within 1/3rd of the picture frame. This gives the eye the chance to take in all aspects of the captured picture. The rule simplified, is essentially forcing the eye to follow the subject rather than giving it the direct picture.

The Rule of Thirds

Also known as the 'Rule of the Thumb', the rule of thirds is nothing but a guideline used to compose visual images. The underlying principle is to imagine an image broken down into 9 equal parts by two horizontal and vertical lines. The rule of thirds suggests that the important elements or subjects should be placed along or on two intersecting lines of the grid.

Canoe
Canoe In Motion

Notice the difference between the two. While the first image says nothing about the surrounding, the one below allows your eyes to travel in the same direction as the boat. The rule of third here, is making the image interact with you, making it even more captivating. Basically, the rule is to allow eye movement, giving your picture more life.

Using The Rule of Thirds

To get a picture to communicate with its viewer, you, as the photographer, need to imagine the focus point. To trap your viewer in the picture, imagine dividing the picture into 9 equal parts. Place your focal point on or near one of the intersecting lines of the grid and shoot. Which basically means that the background becomes as important as the foreground itself.

Bee
The Eye of the Bee
Even though this is a close-up of the bee, the picture has captured the essentials perfectly. Notice how the eyes and the body are lined along the grid lines. This automatically draws the focus to the bee, highlighting the eyes and the wings of the bee.

Senior Portrait
All in the Eyes
When shooting a subject, remember to focus on the part that allures you the most. In portrait photography, for example, the focus is automatically on the individuals eyes and the smile. Place the individual on these lines to make the most of the picture. Take, for example, the picture above, her expression says it all, and it is well-captured placing her raised eyebrow just below the intersecting lines.

Which One's Better?

bridge
observing the rule of thirds

Useful Tips

» Mentally divide the picture into 3 equal parts, both horizontally and vertically.
» Use the grid setting to aid you in dividing the picture.
» Focus on the features that need to be highlighted.
» Place the subject on these lines to make your picture come alive.
» Keep subject away from the center of the frame.
» Align subjects instead, on either sides of the photo.

There is no rule that you cannot break, and this applies to the rule of thirds too. However, if you master the rules of thirds, you can use it to enhance your pictures. You can definitely try placing your subjects in different areas of the frame, thus experimenting with the focus. Do remember to keep the essence of the picture alive.
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