Website design By BotEap.comIn an era of digital photography, where the ability to set automatic exposure, autofocus, and automatic white balance virtually guarantee a sharp and technically pleasing image, the difference between a great shot and a smooth one is often reduced to the mere composition. Understanding this concept can transform the quality of your photography overnight and reveal a whole new way of looking at the world. Website design By BotEap.comPerhaps the most frequently cited principle of effective composition is the “rule of thirds”. To understand when this principle should be used and when it should be ignored, it is important to understand the psychology behind the principle, which is something that is not adequately conveyed in most discussions of the rule of thirds. Website design By BotEap.comThe idea behind the rule of thirds is that when you examine a scene in your viewfinder, you must mentally divide the image in front of you into thirds. Imagine two vertical lines that are placed one-third and two-thirds of the way from the left edge of the viewfinder image. Then imagine two more lines, this time horizontal, placed one-third and two-thirds of the way down from the top edge of the viewfinder image. In fact, you have placed a rough but even grid over the image. Website design By BotEap.comThe rule of thirds states that when you compose your image, you should try to place the most important visual elements on these lines. For example, a standing person should be centered on one of the two vertical lines. A horizontal band of water, a hedge or the base of a wall, would be placed on the upper or lower horizontal line. The idea is that the central points of interest in your image are not placed in the center of the image or too close to the edge of the image. Website design By BotEap.comIf you study photographs held in high esteem by others, you can often discern the application of the rule of thirds. Other times, you can instantly see how a photo with a weak composition could have been substantially improved if the photographer had applied the rule of thirds. Website design By BotEap.comSo why does this method work so well for improving the composition of a photograph? And if it is known that it often * dramatically * improves composition, when should it not be used? Website design By BotEap.comThe key to mastering the rule of thirds is understanding the relationship between the main object being photographed and its immediate surroundings. If there is a relationship between the two and you want to draw attention to it, apply the rule of thirds. By taking the viewer’s eye away from the center of the image, you are suggesting that you (the photographer) did it for a reason, and that to appreciate the full story behind the photograph you have to look for it elsewhere in the image. Website design By BotEap.comThe application of the rule of thirds forces the viewer to relate the main object with its immediate surroundings. Applying the rule of thirds tells the viewer that you have thought about their image, and they should too. Website design By BotEap.comBut the rule of thirds has its limitations. If there is no relationship between the main object and its immediate surroundings that needs to be emphasized, the application of the rule of thirds can still be employed, but the effect will be significantly weakened by causing the viewer to look for a relationship that does not exist. . In such cases, consider blurring the background entirely to re-emphasize the main subject. Website design By BotEap.comApplying the rule of thirds in the wrong situation can also completely destroy the strength of a photograph. In sports photography, the money shot is often captured at the peak of the action, and in that instant the main subject is usually in the center of the frame for maximum impact. This is not an absolute rule of thumb, but the rule of thirds most often applies effectively to relatively static scenes. Website design By BotEap.comOther times that require ignoring the rule of thirds arise when photographing symmetrical objects. A starfish, or the interior of a flower, photographed at close range will result in much stronger images if the center of the starfish or flower coincides with the center of the image. In these cases, symmetry trumps any relationship of the starfish or flower to its immediate surroundings. Website design By BotEap.comIf you haven’t consciously applied the rule of thirds to composing your photos yet, now is a good time to start. Just remember to ask yourself a question: is there a relationship between the main subject of the photograph and their immediate surroundings that I want to convey to the viewer? If there is, the rule of thirds should help you capture that relationship, increase the narrative aspect of your photo, and improve the chances that others will hold you in high regard.