The rule of thirds appears to be one of the most critical composition techniques in photography. Imagine that two horizontal and two vertical lines cross and divide the image into nine equal parts. You then place the critical components of your photo themes along the lines or at the points where they intersect. The bottom line of ROT is that the off-center composition is more eye-catching than the one where the object is placed right in the middle of the image.
The rule of thirds also allows you to creatively use the negative space, i.e., empty area around the primary photo element. There are many other rules of composition, yet ROT is the most popular because of its simplicity and comprehensibility.
Further, we will cover such important question like the use of the rule and lift the veil on its unique.
How To Use A Rule In Photography
To get started with the rule of thirds you have to explicitly understand what the points of interest are in the photo and where you are purposefully locating them. Try to place the most critical elements of the image at or near the lines and intersected points. Remember that the object placement matters. Below are some useful and significant tips that may refresh your photos:
When there is a single object in your image, it is better to locate it next to the left-hand line. If you have something to do with cultures that read from right to left, you should place the object on the right hand.
When the subject is not alone in the photo, follow the ranking of image strength. That being said, the object in the foreground will be visually stronger than the one in the background.
The bottom right point better emphasizes multiple subjects, and the upper left point is weak in highlighting them.
In case of an individual portrait, eyes should be placed along the upper line of third rules.
In case of a group portrait, it is better to place the faces on both the upper and bottom lines of the rules. That is why posing in several rows is more enjoyable.
You can also use the rule of thirds by dividing your picture into zones. When composing a landscape, locate the mountaintop in the upper zone, pond in the middle zone and for example foreground forest in the bottom zone. Note that various zones differently emphasize on the objects in the picture, e.g., objects mounted on the bottom zone usually have a more impressive effect.
The rule of thirds is just one of many composition guidelines in photography. We do not call to be excessively concerned about sticking it only. In some cases, the rule is not relevant and needs to be broken to result in a more attention-getting photo. Keep experimenting to find exactly your unique technique which will help to open up your photographing potential to its fullest.
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Myths About The ROT
Have you ever noticed that the rule of thirds is imposed upon us by insisting on the fact that this is an acceptable and unique method of image composing? If you want to gain a master level in photography like Rubens or Da Vinci do in art, do not let the rule of thirds guide your composition. We are going to shed some light on the ROT myths to focus your attention on the other available composing methods (e.g., the ones used by designers and referring to gestalt psychology).
The rule of thirds makes the image visually enjoyable. In a counterbalance, there are such techniques like Figure-Ground Relationship (FGR used in gestalt psychology), Law of Continuity that enables creating arabesque, and Greatest Area of Contrast (GAC). All of them help to arouse the interest of viewers.
The other myth states that professionals use the ROT. Annie Leibovitz is a professional photographer, yet she will use dynamic symmetry rather than the rule of thirds. Along with that Greek sculpture, ‘Laocoon and His Sons’ was created using dynamic symmetry as well.
A lot of ‘experts’ argue that off-centre composition is more pleasant to view. But who decided that it was true. If the object is placed off center, we will need the counterpart to balance the picture. If there is no counterpart, the balance is disturbed. For more information, read about Gestalt psychology technique called Law of Symmetry.
ROT supposedly guarantees a well-balanced photo. However, no one pays attention to the unwanted negative space which diverts attention away from the critical element of the image. The negative space can be reasonably used to underline the deeper meaning, e.g. loneliness or isolation.
These and more myths can be found here. In conclusion, we encourage you to leave the rule of thirds behind, start learning composition basics from designing point of view and Gestalt psychology techniques. As a result, you will be able to resolve visual issues faster and create astonishing images with super-balanced composition. Stay open-minded to everything new and innovative to become a top-rated photographer.
Self-taught copywriter specialized in web design, marketing, and traveling. Graduated with a degree in German and English translation. Obsessed with guides, listings, and long-read blog posts. Open for new information and strives to explore more undisclosed subjects.
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