I have taken a little time off posting about photography, mostly due to cold weather and being trapped in doors, but I am starting to miss it! So today, I want to talk about Rule of Thirds.

The Rule of Thirds is a guideline that helps us with photo composition. The rule of thumb is that an image should be imagined as divided into 9 sections (think a tic-tac-toe board) and important elements of the photograph should lie on those lines and intersections. 1


To apply it:

  1.  Look through the view finder of your camera.  If you have a DSLR, there should already be lines or markings that indicate these areas that will help you visualize it easily.
  2. Position the focal points of your image on those lines or at the intersections of the lines.
  3. Take your picture.

Easy enough, right?  Well, in theory it sounds easy, but it takes some practice to really get the hang of it.

Below, you can see the difference when applying the Rule of Thirds.  This isn’t a great example, because I am still learning and practicing.  The photo on the left shows the image dead center, whereas the image on the right employs the Rule of Thirds concept.  It makes the photograph more interesting and appealing.

windmill rule of thirds

Rule of Thirds applies to many other mediums as well, for example, cinematography. You may not notice it, but film makers use this rule to make captivating scenes.  You can see how the Rule of Thirds is masterfully used in this Glee video:

Once  you grasp this concept, you will start to see how photographers, advertisers, cinematographers and artists frequently apply this theory to their work.  Pretty cool!

Want to learn more? Check out these sites! 

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds

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6 Responses to Photography: Rule of Thirds

  1. Alex says:

    Hello Andrea,

    I just wanted to inform you that the ‘birthda invites 002’ link on this page is broken.

    Anyway, this is a nice and easy explanation of rule of thirds.

    One of the reasons why I think the rule of thirds works is because moving the focal point away from the center shakes things up somewhat. It forces the viewer to look around the image trying to find the part that stands out more. Whereby if you center the focal point, the image looks very stack and boring.
    For me personally it is all about giving the image some form of movement.

    As you mentioned the view finder might have intersections lines to help compose your photo for the rule of thirds and although this sounds easy, it can be difficult. However, remember that you can always crop your images so that they better follow the rule of thirds.


    • Andrea says:

      Thanks Alex, I appreciate the heads up! It looks like you have a lot of great photography advice on your blog, so I will be sure to go by and check it out. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  2. Adrienne says:

    You do a great job in explaining things in your photography posts, I’ve learned quite a bit. Ready for the weather to change so I can get out more too and practice these skills!

    p.s. I nominated you for a Leibster Award on my blog yesterday, Happy Blogging!

    • avaughan says:

      Thanks so much, Adrienne! It is a lot of fun to practice, and once you apply a few simple techniques, the photographs get so much better 🙂

      I saw that yesterday, thanks for the nomination! That looks fun!

  3. Teresa says:

    Excellent blog! I’ve never read it or observed this concept presented more clearly.

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