Why a “Rule of Thirds”?

Eastpoint 101615e copy

Why a “Rule of Thirds”?

As photographers and artists, we have all heard about the “Rule of Thirds” and how you have to compose an image following it. I agree and disagree. I giggle sometimes when someone comments on a photographer’s image saying, “it is nice but you should have used the rule of thirds”. There are 2 types of composition: Symmetrical and Asymmetrical. Symmetrical meaning balanced, left to right or top to bottom. Asymmetrical meaning you create tension by weighting one part of the frame heavier than the other. You are drawing attention to one part over another. If the image is balanced, even if it is different in subject matter, a symmetrical composition will work. The same applies to something that is balanced, you can create the tension by using the rule of thirds. Creating tension simply makes the viewer study the image vs focusing quickly on the subject. Often taking a symmetrical image but composing it to be asymmetrical will earn you the wrath of “photo judges” by saying you have negative space. Negative space is an area that is void of interest. You can have a lot of open area(negative space) and it still support your subject. It is almost necessary to have it sometimes.

When composing an image, do what looks good for you. If you aren’t sure, compose it several different ways to view and learn from. Digital film is cheap, shoot all you need to learn a lesson from, ignore those who say you shouldn’t experiment. With experiments come failures, with failure comes lessons in success. This kind of works for life too. If you haven’t ever failed, you need to try harder. With failure comes success. My mentor, John Shaw, use to say “the difference between an amateur and a professional is that a professional knows his mistakes and can repeat them often.”

Tamron SP 15-30mm Di VC USD lens on a Nikon D-800, Aperture Priority, f2.8, -0 stops of exposure compensation, ISO 100, resulting in a shutter speed of 2 seconds, Sirui W2204 waterproof tripod and G20X ballhead, Peak Design Leash, Lowepro Flipside 500AW photo backpack, processed in Lightroom CC.


2 Responses to “Why a “Rule of Thirds”?”

  1. I agree, do what looks good to your own taste. However, you need to know the rules before you can break them.

  2. Excellent advice especially for a beginner like myself.

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