PHOTOGRAPHY COMPOSITION TIP 3: USE THE RULE OF THIRDS
The rule of thirds is one of the best-known composition techniques in photography. While the rule of thirds isn’t complicated, it can take some practice to remember to use it in your landscape photography.
WHAT IS THE RULE OF THIRDS?
The basic idea behind the rule of thirds is simple enough. When people view a piece of art – whether a painting, portrait, or landscape photograph – they instinctively break the image up into nine equal sections to get an idea of what the image is about. It is faster for the brain to interpret the image this way. They are mentally drawing two equally spaced vertical lines and two equally spaced horizontal lines through the image, and their eyes tend to focus on the imaginary lines and their intersections first. As a result, viewers tend to find images most pleasing and interesting when important points of interest are placed near these invisible lines and points.
The grid overlay on this photo shows the third lines. The ideal placing of interesting elements of your photos is near the intersection points. Often you can also place the horizon on a third line.
WHY USE THE RULE OF THIRDS IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?
Using the rule of thirds creates a sense of balance while also adding tension while avoiding the image becomes static, which centered image are prone to. Furthermore, it helps you draw and keep a viewer’s interest. That said, there are times at which experienced photographers may choose to break the rule of thirds, often with good reason – maybe to give more balance to a photo or to achieve a symmetric composition.
The rule of thirds comes relatively naturally to some photographers, but others find that it takes practice. Many beginners are instinctively inclined to place points of interest near the center of the photograph, which is contrary to the rule of thirds. Centered images will tend to look more stilted, stark, and boring than those where the subject is placed at the intersection of third lines. In contrast, placing points of images far from both the center and the imaginary lines dividing the image into thirds can look jarring and random.
Using third lines isn’t a strict rule photographers have to follow at all the time, but rather a valuable guideline or tool that can help you take your landscape photography to the next level. It’s always better to master a technique before you decide to break it.
If you’re one of the many photographers to whom the rule of thirds doesn’t come naturally, you may need to consciously practice it for some time before it becomes second nature. Be patient and stick with it. You’ll know when it’s working because your photographs will look and feel more balanced.
When you compose your next photo, think about the key points of interest. Now, mentally divide the image with those two horizontal and two vertical lines, and shift your view until the points of interest align closely with the imaginary lines and intersections. It doesn’t have to be perfect! The most important thing is to shift your thinking away from centering points of interests.