Today I've decided to share with you my little knowledge of the rule of third, which I discovered years ago when I bought my first DSLR camera. If you don't know where to start to compose a nice photograph, keep reading!
The rule of thirds gives you an indication on how to compose a picture. Of course, since photography is still considered an art, this is not a rule that you have to follow every time you snap a picture. But if you are new to the photography world, knowing how the rule of thirds works is sure a great point to start composing your photographs in a lovely way.
To begin, you have to divide your picture frame in 9 equals part. To do so, imagine two vertical lines and two horizontal lines on your picture, like in the example below.
You'll be happy to know that most cameras, including the one on your smartphone, already have this grid included to make all of this easier for you. Usually, you just have to go to the settings and make sure that the option "show grid" is activated.
Now, what are these lines for?
It's not really about the lines, to be honest. What really matters, is that you take note of the four points where the lines cross each other.
It is said that when looking at a picture, the human eye is most likely to focus on one of these four points. Therefore, if you want the subject of your picture to be the first thing to be seen, you should put it on one of those intersections. Here's an example with one of my pictures:
If it wasn't clear, here I wanted this lovely ladybug to be the protagonist of my shot. Since I also wanted the rest of the blade of grass to be seen, I placed the ladybug on one of the bottom points.
Of course, you can find a lot of examples on the web. Just go to Google Image and type "Rule of thirds". Or, if you're lazy like me, just click here.
When should I use the rule of thirds?
I'll be honest here; when I first discovered the rule of thirds years ago I started to apply it to every single shot I took. And I really mean it. Every. Single. Shot.
The truth is that, now that you have this information, you should do whatever you like with it. Apply it to some pictures, to a lot of them or to none. This is really up to you! What I like about the rule of thirds is that it's a tool that can have an impact both when you use it and when you don't. Just decide what is best for your picture.
I find that when I use the rule of thirds by placing my subject on one of the intersection points, everything about it feels at its place. This can give your shots a sense of calm and relaxation. I normally use it when I capture animals and flowers, and even for portraits that just have to look nice and feel "right". It really puts your subject in the first place and makes the viewer forget the rest.
But as I already stated before, photography is an art and art is never been here just to make people feel right. Art is a powerful weapon that can be used to make people feel uncomfortable, anxious, small, big, happy, sad and any kind of emotion you can imagine. By not using the rule of thirds, you can sure make some of those emotions pop in your viewers.
Placing the subject in the middle of the shot could be seen as boring (and it probably is, for some shots), but it can also give an idea of symmetry and relaxation. Different states of mind can be achieved by putting your subject on the top or bottom of your picture, or even slightly off the grid. But I'm sure we will have plenty of time to discuss this as well.
What if I have more than one subject?
When there are multiple subjects in your picture, the rule of thirds can be very helpful to distinct which one of the subject should be seen at first. It doesn't have to be the most important subject to be put on the intersection point, but the one where you want to draw the attention at first sight.
If you can't decide which one of your subject must have the privilege to be put on the intersection points, just remember once again that there is absolutely nothing that ties you to this rule. Just compose the picture in a way that makes sense to you.
Oopsie! I think I should have used the rule of thirds on that picture... What can I do?
Hey, relax! Never heard of post production? If you took a shot and you think you misplaced the subject, you are never too late to go back and crop the image to replace the subject! I'm pretty sure that every photography program and app out there gives you a function to crop your picture. Also, a lot of them will also show you the grid once you start cropping your photograph to make the process even easier for you. My favorite app to do that on the go is VSCO, which is pretty great also for post production in general.
Okay, so now I shared everything I know about the rule of thirds. Hopefully, it will be useful to you as it has been for me! Let me know if you have any further question or any feedback on the matter in the comment section below.
Now grab your camera and go out there! Experiment with the rule of thirds by using it and not. And don't forget to share your beautiful picture on Instagram with the hashtag #chasinglittlewonders
Let's keep in touch!