Composition

The rule of third

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The ‘rule of third’ was one of the first composition rules that I learned and applied. I set my camera in a way so that I saw the 4 lines that divided my frame into 3 parts, horizontal and vertical. This gave me an orientation. Later I checked my picture in Lightroom and cut them accordingly. I’m convinced that my pictures got better with this rule in mind. To center the main subject is way too balanced. There is no tension in the picture that comes from composition. Tension can come from other sources, of course. Contrast i.e. can make a picture exciting. Nevertheless the composition of a picture is important. With the composition I can lead the eye of the viewer.

The rule of third is very useful for a landscape or portrait frame. Instagram has only squares. With Instagram I moved my subject to the middle of the frame again. Everything else feels off.

The first consideration when I take a picture is what frame I shall use. I love the ratio 2:3. This frame allows to move the subject to the side.

I’m convinced that applying the rule of third makes most pictures better.

Reasons for breaking this rule exist.

Yesterday I was in a museum here in Cape Town, SA. In one floor they showed African fashion shows. For me fashion is art, too. The models, the clothes were so beautiful. I sat down and watched one show after the other. In that room were also use dolls dressed in contemporary African clothes. Suddenly a woman entered the room with a huge camera. She took a picture and in the next second she took another one. She asked me to take some pictures with her in the frame. I agreed. Quickly she wanted to terminate the photo session. As fast as she entered the room, she was out.

Sometimes one has to be fast, very fast with the camera. Being ready is everything. Moments don’t repeat. When sleepwalking many situations will get missed if one is not ready. But dolls cannot run away. Why not taking time to think first what one wants to capture. Perhaps details are more important than all these dolls. One must set the camera correctly in such a difficult light situation.

Being fast and ready is a very useful skill.

In order to improve the art of photography one must pause from time to time. Before taking a picture it makes sense to ask oneself a few questions. These questions can change….

For the next month I focus on the following questions before I take a picture:

  1. What’s the subject and do I like it? I want to take pictures of people, but I don’t like to take pictures of people checking their iPhones. There are more interesting activities than that.

  2. From where comes the light? Perhaps I must move?

  3. What composition can I apply? Today it’s the ‘rule of third’ that I want to apply.