Using the ‘rule of thirds’ in composition

The ‘rule of thirds’ is a fundamental consideration in landscape photography composition. In this short article we’ll illustrate how to apply the ‘rule of thirds’ with various types of subject matter.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge

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The photograph above is a classic example of how the foreground, mid-ground and background of the overall image, as well as a corner detail, have been composed using the ‘rule of thirds’.

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When we superimpose the ‘rule of thirds’ grid on the image it is easy to see how all of the elements have been aligned to help achieve a sense of balance in the image.

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Sometimes we may want to shoot wide open to create bokeh in our images which can help highlight the main subject matter. By using the ‘rule of thirds’ we can further accentuate the main subject.

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This technique is often used with images used for advertising purposes where an advertising message (often in white, ‘knock-out’ type) is positioned on the out-of-focus areas of the image.

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We may have a dominating element in our photograph such as the large tree in this image. To help keep that dominating element in balance with the rest of the scene we can use the ‘rule of thirds’.

rule of thirds 4a

At other times we may have a scene where positioning the main subject matter works best in centre frame as seen by the bridge in the following photograph.

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We can use the ‘rule of thirds’ to help decide the overall size of the subject matter in order to help achieve good balance.

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Some of our images may have a sense of drama, serenity, or evoke an emotion from the viewer.

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By using the ‘rule of thirds’ in our composition we can further accentuate the emotional attribute of our image.

rule of thirds 7a

Many cameras have the capability of displaying a composition grid on the rear panel or in the viewfinder. Using it can help to make composition decisions.

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