Jan 27, 2009

Basic Composition #2 - The Suggestion of Thirds

OK, so it is really called the "Rule of Thirds." Like any other so-called rule in the creative world, it is often broken just to make a creative statement.

With that in mind, remember that it is really a suggestion, and a very good way to think about composing your photos so that they move beyond snapshots.

Watch this for a professional explanation...

OK, that was a lot of quick information..

Basically, you want to put your subject somewhere other than dead center of the picture. That is the quick and easy snapshot, but not usually a photo that holds interest. Second to that, you want the other elements of the photo to create lines that lead your eye to the subject and create interest.

As cute as our dog Nina is, I really wish this photo was framed with more room in front of her nose, and with her somewhere off to the left instead of dead center. Definitely should have been horizontal.
Nina Peeking
Canon 40D, 17-85mm, f5.6, 1/60, iso100

Again, the photo is all about accentuating the subject.

If the subject is a face, then it is usually the eyes that are the focal point and should be part of the rule of thirds. Putting the eyes out of the center (and in focus) brings life to the face, and visual interest to the photo.
Canon 40D, 50mm, f1.8, 1/60, iso200

When composing for people, animals or anything with a face, it is important to consider where the subject is looking. In the video the guy calls it "look-off room." Basically, you need space in front of the subjects face, preferably across the frame of the picture. Otherwise, the subject is peering off the edge of the picture.

Just getting an expression is difficult enough with kids and pets... I wish I had more room to the left on this one. Even with fun lighting, my brain wants some "look-off room" over there.
Canon 40D, 17-85mm, f11, 1/250, iso200

It generally also good to leave space in front of a moving subject in the photo. Again, your brain wants a place for the movement to go, and if it goes out of the frame, it is harder to make sense of.
Where is that tongue going anyway?
Canon 40D, 17-85mm, f5.6, 1/60, iso200, Flash

OK, enough of that. Rules are meant to be broken, right? Well, sort of.

Just consider that these compositional elements are what can make a photo better than the snapshot that you were about to take. Move the subject over and give it room. With this move toward intentional photos, you are are taking control and making images that will have a better chance of looking good.
Nina Waits
Canon 40D, 17-85mm, f5.6, 1/200, iso320

Final thought, especially with dog pictures....

Don't throw the doggie treat too close to the camera!
Give me the stinkin' treat!
don j

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