The Rule of Thirds

The Photography Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a Sometimes Rule.

All photographers know that composition is the #1 rule of photography. And in good composition we should observe the rule of thirds. Shooting the landscape or seascape normaly requires the horizon to be in the top or bottom third of the picture, well sometimes yes and sometimes no. But one important thing here, better make sure the horizon is level.

The shot below of a rainy day on the beach is an example of my following the rule of thirds and it is a pleasing picture because of it. So why not obey the rule in every shot?

Shooting the light in closeup
Horizon in top third and subject in right third.
Photo Exif Data - f8. 1/60. ISO-200.

Well maybe there is something in the top part of the photo that is just as important to the overall picture as what is in the bottom half. Like a reflection of clouds in wet sand or a building in water.

Study The Scene Carefully.

Study your scene carefully and look for the important parts and see where it is best to put them in your shot. The rule of thirds is very important, but it is a sometimes rule and can be broken but only sometimes so be careful when you do break it.

Shooting the shadows
Following the rule of thirds.
Photo Exif Data - f6.3. 1/40. ISO-100.

So when can I break the rule of thirds?

In the shot below of a dawn over Lake Harmon at Copeland in the Florida Everglades the horizon line is dead center and it works here because both top and bottom of the scene are equally important to the overall image.

Shooting the light
When the top and bottom are equal.
Photo Exif Data - f11. 1/60. ISO-100.

When should I never, ever break the rule of thirds?

OK. So we know it is an important rule and that we can break it sometimes, so when should we never, ever break it. I would say when shooting people or creatures. NEVER put the faces in the center of the frame. Most modern cameras allow you to put a Rule of Thirds grid over your viewer, I use this all of the time and so should you.

Great White Egret pruning in the light
Never put faces in the center of the frame.
Photo Exif Data - f13. 1/100. ISO-1600.

If you are into photography in a serious way you will have Adobe Photoshop or maybe Adobe Elements or another similar program. I use Adobe Photoshop and it helps a lot to be able to crop and enhance the colours of my photos, and I always shoot in RAW format. RAW gives me the most photographic details in the image and more is always better, right.