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Friday, 25 January 2013

Photography Tips: The Rule of Thirds


Nowadays photography has become an all round favorite pastime. It's pleasant, creative, and with the new technology it becomes very accessible. No more chemicals, darkrooms, waiting time, guessing games etc. You take the shot and by the time you look at your display it's already there, stored and ready.
Anyway, to some taking beautiful pictures comes naturally. Other must work hard to achieve that. There are hundreds, thousands of rules and various elements that define a beautiful picture. Most courses take a lot of time getting involved in the technical aspect of taking pictures. I will neglect that, as new cameras are way smarter than the users and technicalities are best left to them.
The most important rule - as a matter of fact THE ONLY RULE - you should take in consideration carefully when taking pictures is the rule of thirds. In all visual imagery the rule of thirds is perhaps the most used and widely accepted as a constant. Divide the screen into thirds, break the image, so to speak, so that you have the display divided into nine parts. Now, if you place points of interest in the intersection or along the lines that divide those parts, your photo becomes a lot more balanced. Take a portrait, for example. If the subject is looking somewhere out of the image than leaving a bit of space in that direction and moving your subject in the opposite part of the frame would be considered a well-balanced touch. In television it's called 'luft', coming from the same German word that means 'air'. You may see that wherever the man of TV is looking towards one outside point to his left or right the camera operator slightly readjusts the angle so he is not centered anymore.
This rule has been used in painting since painting exists. Not necessarily a written rule, though. The main explanation behind this is that the human eye tends to be drawn towards the intersection points of the frame, and therefore the entire composition becomes a message easier to grasp.
So do not center your subject and try to grant weight to all elements in your picture. Because a photograph is not a fixed ecuation, rules like two-thirds are only partially mandatory. Another rule - closely tied to this - says that the eyes of a subject looking outwards should be pinpointed at one third on the frame, leaving two thirds in the direction he's looking. But again, it's not algebra we're talking about here. Just experiment with this and you'll come to realize what it means, hen it's appropriate to use it and when it's not.
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