The Rule of Thirds
Rule of Thirds Artistic Composition Rule
When it comes to balancing a photo through thoughtful composition, you can’t go past the rule of thirds. It’s a solid performer. With minimal effort, you can arrange a subject in exactly the right place, and the results will speak for themselves.
When an image is well-balanced, you feel it instinctively. You may not be able to put into words what you like about the image, but you will have an unconscious appreciation for its balance and harmony. The rule of thirds achieves this because it adds a simple but dynamic element to photo composition — it moves the subject away from the center of the frame.
Too many photographers position their subjects in the middle of the screen or viewfinder. Unless you are aiming for an expression of symmetry, this makes a boring photo. It’s too safe, too average. Moving the subject off-center makes it more interesting because the weight of the image has shifted. The rule of thirds grid provides an easy way to align your subject into one of the best positions for an engaging image.
What is the Rule of Thirds?
In the Wise Camera app, your iPhone screen is divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. The grid has two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. Placing your subject along the vertical or horizontal lines takes it away from the center, but not so far that it becomes unbalanced.
When Can You Use it?
Landscape shots benefit from the rule of thirds because a photo looks more compelling when the horizon is positioned away from the center. Placing it one-third of the way from the top or bottom of the screen shows you are thinking about other elements in the image. Place the horizon on the top line if the foreground shows interesting texture and detail, but place it on the lower line if you want to emphasize the sky when it is filled with dramatic storm clouds.
The rule of thirds is not just for landscapes, though. Use it for anything! Portraits, street photography, wildlife, and fashion photos can all benefit from this artistic composition technique. Most of the time, you’ll see the rule of thirds displayed in a horizontal format, but it works just as well vertically. Tilt your iPhone upright to use this rule when taking photos of buildings, tourism landmarks, and people too.
When shooting pictures of people, have them lined up with one of the vertical lines, and make sure they are facing towards the area with the greatest amount of space. This gives them the appearance of having somewhere to move into. If they are turned the other way, it’ll look too claustrophobic. It will seem as though they are facing a wall.
Using the Hot Spots.
Another great reason for choosing this composition rule is for the hot spots on the grid. Each of the intersecting areas on the grid is a hot spot of excellence. If you can position your subject on one of the areas where lines join, you are incorporating an extra key element into the design of your photo. In a full-length portrait, make sure the person’s head is at one of the hot spots. In a closer shot of a person’s face, having one of the eyes at an intersecting point is definitely worthwhile. And if you can get the smile along with one of the horizontal lines, you end up with an even stronger image.
In seascapes, position the setting sun, a sailboat, or the crest of a wave at one of these hot spots. In landscapes, place a feature subject such as a barn, shapely tree, or the peak of a mountain at one of the intersecting points. And when doing street photography, if you can press the shutter button when a person is at one of those hot spots on the screen, the viewer will automatically see this individual as the main subject of the image.
Fix a Photo
If you have a collection of photos you are proud of, but some of them don’t receive the attention you think they deserve, maybe they need another edit. Revisit these images with the wisdom of hindsight and the technological help of the Wise Photos app. Apply the rule of thirds option, and you’ll probably discover that it was the missing piece of the composition puzzle.
If this is the first time you’ve heard about the rule of thirds, you’ll now start to see it in the images of your favorite photographers. Just about everyone with a camera or a paintbrush makes use of it or at least considers it while composing an image. It’s not necessarily going to turn your photo into a masterpiece, but it will make it more creative.
A little about me. I love creating digital products! Making Apple apps has been a fantastic creative outlet and a collaborative experience with many talented people. Helping others with what I love to do inspires me. You can find all my apps at my Digiguys Apps website.