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Rule of Thirds

Rule of thirds photography tutorial

When I bought my first DSLR camera and took up photography seriously, in a pleasurable sort of way of course, back in 2013, two tutorials on YouTube/basic rules of photography helped me the most and once understood instantly took my images from snapshots to images people liked and commented on.

This post covers one of them – “THE RULE OF THIRDS“, in my next post I will cover the other one “LEADING LINES“.

Some photographers online will attack the rule of thirds for being too obvious but I really don’t know where they are coming from, even a basic rule of thirds photograph looks far batter than an image that does not use this rule. Every image I take has the rule of thirds in mind, OK, sometimes you bend the rules but you need to know the rule before you can bend it!

The rule of thirds naturally places key points of your photograph to a more natural place in the image instead of boring dead centre. As you can see below, the crossing parts of the grid meet natural points of interest in the image. These points can be the sun, the horizon, a butterfly, a person’s eye or body, the options are endless.

Below is a better example maybe:

The subject’s eye is drectly on a third line (where the lines cross).

Rule of thirds photography tutorial

And a landscape eqivalent…

Rule of thirds

I am sure you can see the basics and a pattern starting to form now, that’s good. Use this imaginary grid and you photos will get better over night.

Please note: anywhere near or following a line is also OK, you can also turn this grid on when viewing images through the view finds of your camera, but you will need to comment and tell me your model of camera before I can explain how.

Once you have learned and know how to use the rule of thirds you can start using the rule cretively and breaking the rules a little as seen in the examples below … I only have this option in my camera on live-view which I use rareley. The grid is almost always in my mind.

Brimham Rocks lone tree on rock outcrop in Yorkshire rule of thirds

Ferry Bridge Powerstation Rule of Thirds

I hope this helps. You will have questions, noting asked, nothing learned! Fill in the comments box blow and I will gladly answer and help.

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Tim Hill

I am a landscape/seascape photographer from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England. All comments appreciated and answered.

2 thoughts on “Rule of Thirds”

  1. Hi,Tim, Ich versuche es mal so: Dieses Drittel ist eine sehr wichtige vorgabe um den Bildausschnitt zu finden damit das, was man zeigen will im Bild den gleichen Eindruck beinhaltet, wie der, den man mit bloßem Auge sehen kann.
    Was mich stört sind Sonnen die im Baum hinter den Ästen und Zweigen das Licht in strahlen brechen. Diese Vorgaben aus Photoshop sind zu platt. Unnatürlich und gestellt. Man muss sie auf einer Extra Ebene erst setzen bearbeiten und dann in den Baum bringen. Natürlicher ist er erst wenn ganz feine und breitere Strahlen entstehen die gerade unterschiedlich sind und nur schwach erkennbar, und doch auffallen. Dann wirkt das Licht der Sonne wie ein Traumbild. Dir weiterhin viel erfolg und Du kannst Dir auf die Schulter klopfen, Du bist ein super Fotograf. Rose

    (Hi, Tim, I try it this way: This third is a very important requirement to find the image detail so that what you want to show in the picture the same impression as the one that you can see with the naked eye.
    What bothers me are suns in the tree behind the branches and twigs break the light into rays. These presets from Photoshop are too flat. Unnatural and posed. You have to edit them first on an extra layer and then bring them to the tree. It is more natural only when very fine and broader rays emerge that are just different and only faintly recognizable, yet striking. Then the light of the sun looks like a dream image. You continue to have much success and you can pat yourself on the back, you’re a great photographer. rose)

    • Hallo Rose – vielen Dank für Ihre freundlichen Worte, sehr geschätzt. Ich verstehe, was Sie meinen, wenn die Sonnenstrahlen auf diesem Bild flach sind, aber dieses Bild ist um ein Vielfaches kleiner als das Original und hat viel an Qualität eingebüßt, um zu dieser Website hinzugefügt zu werden. Sie können natürlich Recht haben, aber es hängt alles davon ab, wie lange Sie für ein Bild ausgeben möchten. Ich habe übrigens kein Preset benutzt, das tue ich selten. Nochmals vielen Dank und freundliche Grüße – Tim

      (Hi Rose – thank you for your kind words, really appreciated. I do understand what you mean about the sun rays being flat on this image but this image is many times smaller than the original and has lost much quality to be added to this website and still be OK for viewers using mobile devices. You may be right of course but it all depends how long you want to spend on one image. I did not use a preset by the way, I rarely do. Thank you again and kind regards – Tim)

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