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7 ? ? The Notorious Rule of Thirds....


I make no great claims for my photography. But I do try very hard not to be boring.
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7 The Notorious Rule of Thirds....

16 Jan 2015 3:30PM   Views : 1145 Unique : 496

Photography has its Rules. Do a Google search and you will find lists... The most frequently quoted is The Rule of Thirds, which says - Divide the frame up into nine equal rectangles using two horizontal and two vertical lines, and aim to place your subject on one of the intersections, your horizon on one of the horizontal lines, any dominant upright on one of the vertical lines.

It works, in the way that a lot of things work. Cooking potatoes with goose fat, beans with bacon, apples with cinnamon. They work but they're not compulsory with every meal...

I've blogged this far without ever mentioning the RoT once. Here's a little story...

A while ago I ran a session on composition for our University of the Third Age Photography group. I showed a series of classic landscape / seascape compositions based on the RoT each one with a strategically placed hay-bale, life-belt, lobster pot, rock, tree, boat, lighthouse, lamppost, the inevitable Black Rock Cottage... Quite a variety of subjects.

The first one bowled them over, they thought it amazing. They were pretty impressed with the next couple, after that the interest waned sharply, they got restless. By number ten, mutterings of 'That's enough ' started to be heard...

Obedience to the RoT will pretty well guarantee an image that sits comfortably with the eye, answers all questions, gives a sense of total satisfaction. A cream cake image, sweet, self-indulgent, one is enough. Eat two or more and you start to feel bloated.

On the other hand, breaking the RoT creatively can give an image that is edgy, unsettling, leaves questions unanswered. A savoury appetiser image that leaves you wanting more. Much the same applies to breaking other rules. But it requires a lot more thought and understanding.

All too often, on this site and elsewhere, I hear 'Dreadful image, it comes nowhere near to obeying the Rule of Thirds'. Or alternatively, 'Brilliant image, obeys the Rule of Thirds perfectly'. Both are just plain lazy reactions.

Right, that's the last of my hot air, except that I am accumulating a further list of Things we say all the time in the Critique Gallery, things that I left out of the first list. I'll add them some time soon.

Recent blogs by mrswoolybill


Scottishlandscapes Avatar
25 Jan 2015 11:07AM
Hard to believe the last line..."Right, that's the last of my hot air".

maybe for the moment, time will tell.


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