Lens Artist Challenge 197 – Rule of Thirds

Ok, so this is my third week joining the “Lens Artist Challenge” and it’s official. I’m hooked! Not only with the challenges but seeing and reading all of the other wonderful posts! It’s truly one of the highlights of my week to participate in the challenges.

This week Tina brings us back to the basics and challenges us with the “Rule of Thirds.” You can read her post here. I must say, I have taken a photography course (or two) many moons ago but had completely forgotten what the 10 Rules of Photography Composition were so this was a fun challenge to revisit rule #1.

The “Rule of Thirds” says your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines and you should position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect.

Landscape photography lends itself well to this rule because you’re trying to capture and recreate in your camera what you see in real life. The rule of thirds can help you determine the focal point and how to incorporate everything else you see.

Take for instance this photo from The Pacific Coast Highway. The anchor (where your eye is drawn) is the carved out wooden stool on the lower left corner. As soon as your eye catches the seat you follow it outward to the road in the background with the coastline running parallel. Funny story behind this photo. My husband and I had passed this spot and he pulled off the road for me to take the photo. I had to turn around in the passenger seat (fortunately we had rented a convertible) to take the shot!

The next photo (also taken on the Pacific Coast Highway) may not quite follow the rule. If you were to put a grid over the photo the lighthouse is pretty much in the center, not on one of the vertical axis (like Tina says, rules are made to be broken). However, your eye is pulled from the lower right-hand corner (the rocky cliff) to the lighthouse. In my perspective the photo would not have told the story about the lighthouse being out on a point, had the rocky ledge in the lower right-hand corner pointed you to it.

When it comes to nature shots, that’s a completely different story. I’m always focused on capturing the subject first and come back to the “Rule of Thirds” when I’m cropping and editing the photos.

For instance, my bird shots. I like to use them for my weekly quotes so it’s important to me to get the shot of the bird and then worry about composition later. This week’s quote about bluebirds is a great example of the process I go through.

When you look at the original photo on the left it needs a lot of cropping to get to the main subject, the bluebird and the feeder (the second photo). I would rather the bird face the other direction, but I had to go with where it landed (trust me I took several shots to get this one). But what I like with the end result is the quote actually anchors/balances the photo. What do you think?

Similar to landscapes, gardening photography lends itself well to the rule of thirds, too.

Like these daylilies and black lantern. The daylilies may first catch your eye first, but because they face in the direction of the lantern, it becomes the anchor.

Or this pink hydrangea cluster. It starts at the lower left quadrant and your eye follows the clusters from left to upper middle to the right side of the image.

As Tina reminded us, rules are made to be broken. Nothing really lines up on any particular axis with this knock-out rose, but it’s obvious the bud is the focal point, accented by the Boka image of the open bloom in the background.

As a closing thought, the “Rule of Thirds” is a good tool if you find it difficult to get balance in your images.

Thank you, Tina for the refresher on the rule of thirds. I’m confident I’ll keep an eye out more when taking photos.

~Donna

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