A well known photographer, Ernest Haas said, “The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE.”
Each photographer gets to choose the elements included in a photograph as well as those that are made less important or excluded. During the Renaissance, painters created a simple formula for helping the viewer to focus on the main subject of a painting while at the same time allowing their eyes to wander around it. They discovered that a person does not simply stop and look at the centre of a painting but is generally curious about everything that is within the frame.
Photographers use the Rule of Thirds to help draw attention to the centre of interest, focal point, or main subject of their image.
Imagine a grid of two horizontal and vertical lines, equal distance apart…like tic tac toe…and notice the four points where these lines intersect. Studies have shown that the human eye naturally sees the area of one of these intersecting points before moving through other parts of an image.
Thinking about the composition of a photograph before you press the shutter can make your images more appealing. When you’re looking through the viewfinder to set up your picture, take a moment to think about what makes the strongest element in the scene and place it on one of the locations where the horizontal and vertical lines meet.
the dock placed in the centre of this photograph is not nearly as pleasing to the eye as in the location in the image below
the dock placed in the upper right allows the eyes to notice it first and then wander through the rest of the scene
Of course, this is not a fixed rule but rather a guideline to help image makers.
Each photographer will use their own creative expression in choosing the composition. However, if you’ve always been placing your main subject in the middle of the frame, give the Rule of Thirds a try and you may develop stronger images that your viewers will enjoy.
Below are two images of pears. In the first, I placed the pears in the middle of the frame. It is definitely pleasing to the eye. But, take a look at the photograph below it. By giving the pears more space within the frame on the right and placing the focal point on the left, the image is stronger and allows the viewer to take their time and explore the image.
the pears are centered in this image
the pears are placed in this composition using the Rule of Thirds
“My theory of composition? Simple: do not release the shutter until everything in the viewfinder feels just right.” Ernest Haas
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