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Rules of Thirds in Photography

The rule of thirds is the most well-known compositional rule (or guideline) in photography, and it's definitely one of the first things a new photographer knows. You may already have some knowledge of the rule of thirds, as well as an awareness that it isn't always the best choice for your image. As you've probably learned a million times, rules are made to be broken.

Main object a rock. Sunset.Lake Michigan.

What is the Rule of Thirds?

The rule of thirds describes a basic compositional structure of a photograph. Taking any image, you can split it into 9 segments by using 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines.


How to Use the Rule of Thirds

Imagine the scene divided up as seen above when framing a picture. Consider the elements of the picture are most relevant, and try to position them on or near the grid's lines and intersections. It's not necessary for them to be completely aligned as long as they're near.

It's possible that you'll have to move around to find the right composition. This forces you to consider the shot more carefully, and it's a good habit to get into whether or not you're using the rule of thirds.

Some cameras have a setting that overlays a rule of thirds grid onto your picture to assist you. This eliminates all guesswork and allows you to get even more precise positioning.

Arches National Park

The rule of thirds explained: Landscapes

By following a few basic guidelines, you can apply the law of thirds to your landscape photography.

To begin, align the shot's horizon with one of the rule of thirds grid's horizontal lines (the bottom one is usually best).


The rule of thirds explained: Portraits

The rule of thirds may be applied to any form of photograph, including portraits. In reality, based solely on subject placement, using the rule of thirds on portraits can help you turn a simple photograph into a stunning one.

Consider the following scenario:

Man portrait

The man's face is right on the point of interest, as you can see. This is ideal because the purpose of portrait photography is to get your main subject's eyes on or near a point of interest. People will see this part of your picture first this way.

Can you break the rule of thirds?

The 'Rule of Thirds,' like all the best rules, is meant to be broken. Although it can aid image composition, there are occasions when breaking it yields a better image. To avoid looking like an accident or sloppy composition, it's generally best to break the rule drastically.

Woman portrait

Conclusion: the rule of thirds

One of the simplest ways to improve your photography skills is to use the rule of thirds in any picture you take.

Have you ever used the rule of thirds in your photography?


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