#Photo3 – Three Rule-of-Thirds Techniques

A weekly trio of top photo tips

The rule-of-thirds composition technique often gets a hard time in photography. It’s one of the most simple and effective rules to apply to an image, yet often is attacked for being too bland and obvious and the first rule that you should break to be more original. However, I’m here to defend the rule-of-thirds. It’s a great rule, does it job well and can make or break an image and in my book, that makes it a winner!

Divide your scene

The classic use of the rule of thirds, is to use it for the positioning of a key subject in the framing of a scene. Instead of putting it dead centre, you instead divide your scene into segments and cross-points with four dividing lines, with the crossing points of these lines being the rule’s ideal placement for your main subject. This takes the subject, just off-centre, to a more natural area of your frame, one that the brain responds to as being pleasing and easy on the eye.

A classic use of the rule-of-thirds

Place your horizon

The upper and lower rule-of-third diving lines are ideal positions for placing the horizon. A good landscape composition is either biased the land or the sky in the frame. So in most cases, the landscape should be dominant and therefore the sky only needs to occupy the top third of the picture and be placed over the top line. If the sky is interesting enough, you can bias this and use the bottom line for the horizon. Either way, this is a better choice in most cases than a horizon placed across the middle of the frame for a 50/50 split.

Position the horizon on the upper line when the sky is weak

Negative Space

You can take the rule-of-thirds to another level by using it for creating negative space. This is another effective composition technique, that allows empty space to dominate your image, yet be powerful by the simplicity of the result. So, place a key subject on a rule of thirds cross point, but shoot wide and keep the rest of the view very plain or minimal, which will then draw all the attention to your key subject. It doesn’t work on all views, but it’s very creative when it does.

Use the rule-of-thirds for simplicity

You can read more about composition in my eGuides. These are available as part of an e6 subscription or to purchase separately. www.e6subscription.co.uk

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