What is the Rule of Thirds

Digital cameras have taken the main role in the photography in these modern times. The focus is on the technical characteristics of the photography, which means that the artistic sides of the photography are often overlooked. If you have purchased a modern digital camera and your pictures look more like snapshots, then it is good time for you to look at the photo subjects differently and think of the composition. A nice place for you to start is the so-called Rule of Thirds.

So what exactly is this Rule of Thirds? This rule is a kind of a guide for you to understand and structure your composition better in a way in which it will visually please your eye. As soon as you start gaining more experience with photography you will be able to decide yourself when to use the Rule of Thirds and when not to use it. In any case, before you can start doing that you have to fully understand it how it works.

A good thing to do is to make a sketch in order for everything to get a clearer picture. Just draw a rectangular object in which you will draw two horizontal lines – one on one third off the bottom and another one third from the top. Then draw two vertical lines – one third from the right and one third from the left. By drawing all these lines you will divide your rectangle into nine sections. The Rule of Thirds means that those lines that divide the photo into thirds are the best and most effective spots for positioning objects for your photo. For example, vertical objects like lamps, chairs or trees should be positioned near the lines that are close to the one third of the right or left of the picture, while horizon should be placed near the line that is close to the one third of the top of the picture. It may sound a bit confusing, but it is really simple if you draw a sketch and see it.

rule of thirds photo

Best Points in the Photo Composition

According to the Rule of Thirds, the most powerful and the best points in the photo composition are those places where the lines are intersecting. So if the horizon is in the top third of the picture frame, then a tree, lamp or a house would be best positioned in the one third from the right or left, at the exact point where the vertical and horizontal lines are intersecting. If you have placed a tree or lamp along the vertical lines, then a bird sitting on the top of the tree would be best placed in the position where the horizontal line intersects the one third from the top of the frame. This may look like too structured and well positioned for the outside world, and it usually is. The outside world is not so structured and packaged according to our needs. You should not expect all of the things in your photographs to be structured and positioned in accordance with the Rule of Thirds. However, if you use this as a guide, you can start creating structures in your photos.

The Rule of Thirds is efficient and it works because it satisfies our visual senses for proportion. That way the photographs have more balanced and pleasant look. Many experienced photographers have a strong sense of balance. They are making photos in accordance with the Rule of Thirds without even realizing. They take pictures that feel and look right to them just by unconsciously applying the Rule of Thirds. Those photographers that are just starting with photography and struggle with composition would benefit a lot from this basic guideline for the Rule of Thirds. As the time passes and you gain more experience, you will develop the skill of noticing the ‘feel and look’ for composition.

Interestingly, some photographs are made better and more effective by purposely neglecting the Rule of Thirds. The viewer`s attention can be focused on a certain feature by placing it where he or she would normally expect to see the object. If this is done correctly, the photo impact can be boosted by breaking the natural feel of visual balance. This can also be seen through a simple example. For example, a photo depicting a sunset is usually mostly about the sky. A good photographer can boost the impact of the sky just by lowering down the horizon below the normal levels for the horizon. That will result into a sky that dominates the ground and that has a strong appearance in the photo. There are numerous other examples of amazing photos that were taken by not paying attention to the Rule of Thirds. The main thing is for you to make them amazing by knowingly using the Rule of Thirds, so your photos would be more effective.