Understanding the Rule of third (1/3) in photography

snapshot of a draw of the rule of third
snapshot of a draw of the rule of third © Patrice Laborda

Speaking rules in Photography, there is the famous rule of third, it might sounds boring and you might have seen this one everywhere on different websites.

Boring or not it is based on the human perception (we do not have just one eye in the center of our face), and it's based also of centuries of practices by Master's painters!

To make it simple, you divide the space of a photograph in 3 parts, horizontally as vertically (take a look at the draw), in your camera setting you can have those vertical and horizontal lines showing up on the back-screen to help you for the composition.


Now look at the crossing section of those lines, you see ? it's written "Point of Force" ! It is where you want to put the most important thing of your photograph, those 4 points are the strongest point of interest in the picture, it's where you want to put the eyes of a portrait for example (you don't have to put it exactly on this point, just near it's fine too).

If you cannot use the "Point of Forces" where the lines are crossing, use those lines, they are also very strong in the composition, extremely strong i should say. In fact those 2 horizontal and vertical lines are so powerful in the photography composition that they are used for landscape photograph, skyline photography, architecture photos, and so on.


Those powerful composition lines are used everywhere in every type of photography.

You might tell me that it's not always possible ... Yes it is!

But, let's get it by some typical example, like family photography, architecture photography, portrait photography and landscape or sunset photography.


Photograph with example of the rule of third
Photograph with example of the rule of third © Patrice Laborda

Here is a photograph of my son playing with on a slider.


On this photograph i encounter few problems. First, i do not want to "cut" any members of my son like hands, feet, arms, and i needed cut the legs of my sister in law behind, but i should cut it properly (later i will explain how to cut things on a photograph), so to get back on track and as you can see, i put my son's eyes on the first line of the  rule of third because it was impossible to put them on a "Point of Force" without cutting something or change the composition, but it's still a strong picture, and by far stronger than if he has his head right in the middle of the photograph.

 You might also be interested with the last entry in the blog:

Photophone: How to do great pictures with a smartphone or a tablet.

How to take great pictures with a smartphone
How to take great pictures with a smartphone?

Nowadays our smartphones have more computer power than a 10 years old desktop computer. Technology is evolving fast and with it, the language acquiring new words like  smartphone or selfie.

We are doing everything with our phone, from a GPS assistant to photograph or record a movie in full 1080p HD, even post processing those images, and i don't even speak about playing 3D games, read some news on internet and so on...


At the end, when we compare how we use our phone the most, in percentage, I can say safely that we barely use it to call someone, and this is why i call mine a photophone.

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