Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Composition - The Rule of Thirds

Most beginning photographers tend to place their subject toward the middle of the photograph. However, more advanced photographers apply compositional "rules" to make pictures more pleasing to the viewer. One of these is called the "rule of thirds" (I have seen this called the rule of nines by someone on the internet, but I think you will find that most photographers call it the rule of thirds). Imagine a blank photograph that is divided into three equal parts both vertically and horizontally by lines. Where these lines meet are key focal points (you'll see these points given a number of names by different photographers) to place your main subject. The diagram below shows these key focal points as red circles.

If you turn this diagram sideways the focal points are located where you place the main subject when you are taking a vertical picture.

The next two photos are of the same Little Wood Satyr butterfly. The first photo has the butterfly on or near a focal point and the second has the butterfly in the center of the frame (the second photo is the first one, just cropped to place the butterfly in the center).

You can see how the subject looks different in the two photos (besides the butterfly being larger in the second). Some may find the centered butterfly more pleasing, but this may just be due to the subject I choose. However, this goes to show that sometimes rules are made to be broken. Others may find the butterfly on the focal point more pleasing. Which do you like (comment on this posting to let us know)? You may recall in an earlier post that I indicated we all have our unique way of looking at and displaying the world in our art. Our own style. Well, some will like the top picture and others the bottom.

You will find that some subjects lend themselves to placement at one of these focal points wile others should be placed somewhere else, such as the center. For example, if you wish to show an object and its reflection in water you may wish to place the subject so the line half way between the object and its reflection is in the middle of the frame. The picture will look very similar both up-side-down and right-side-up.

Both photos of the Little Wood Satyr are good, but I like the top one. This is not only because it is on a focal point, but because the implied action is a little wrong in the bottom photo. What do I mean by "implied action?" Read the next posting to find out.

No comments: