Sunday, February 24, 2013


I am a teacher at heart. I love teaching! I also learn a lot more when I am teaching.
All the preparation is part of it of course, but I also tend to learn a ton
from the students I am supposed to be teaching!
So this week my new Mom*N*PopTography classes began!
First up on the lesson plan is the compositional technique of "The Rule of Thirds."
Wikipedia's definition looks like this...
"The rule of thirds is a "rule of thumb" or guideline which applies to the process of composing visual images such as paintings, photographs and designs.[1] The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.[2] Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject would."
So essentially, if you were to make a tic-tac-toe grid
to help you decide where to place the subject of your picture,
instead of putting the subject dead center in the middle square,
 it is more pleasing to the eye if the subject of interest
falls along one of the grid lines or at one of the intersecting points of the grid lines.

It doesn't have to be exactly on the lines or intersections for it to count.
Just having the interest points or elements near those lines or sections
makes a photo, painting, drawing, or any image more interesting.
The photo at the beginning of this post is a good example of the rule of thirds.
The subject is completely aligned on the left vertical grid line.
Additionally, notice how the subject is looking into the space in the frame and not out of it.
Our brain likes to see that space. If he were looking out of the frame,
 there would be a tension created that would take away from
 the sweetness that was captured in this moment of childhood.
On the other hand, if you are TRYING to create emotional tension
 in the story telling of your image,
having your subject look out of the frame can be a good tool to create it.
Sometimes the main interest point may NOT be the entire subject, but only part of the subject. In the photo below, the eye that is closest to the camera becomes the main point of interest and the rest of the eyeline falls near the upper horizontal grid line but not exactly on it.

Until you can use the rule of thirds without having to think about it, most camera's have a option to turn on a grid display in the menu functions. Check your camera manual to be sure. After that, make sure you practice, practice, and practice some more!
Keep this in mind as well...
Sometimes it is more interesting to break the rules!
Play with it. Have fun! Create your art for yourself, to please yourself!
If YOU aren't pleased with it, then why should anyone else be,
and there will ALWAYS be people who don't like stuff.

1 comment:

Amber Perez - What is a Professional Doctorate? said...

Thank you for teaching us about the rule of thirds. I cannot wait to practice this tic tac toe grid at home. It is good to know that most cameras have an option to turn on the gird display. All it takes is a little practice, but as long as we are happy with the outcome that is the most important thing.

Please visit My Webblog