So what is the rule of thirds in photography? I hear this term “rule of thirds” all the time when I am talking to my photography friends.
Today I thought I would dive into how to apply the rule of thirds to your photography so that you can help your viewers interact naturally with your photos. Basically the rule of thirds is when you divide the picture into thirds or nine equal sections.
Take a look at the photo above. Where the lines intersect is where the eye naturally goes when looking at a photo. Many photographers will place their focal points near the 4 intersecting lines or one of the 4 intersecting lines. This allows the person viewing your photo to interact more naturally with the photo.
You can either apply this when you are taking the picture or you can do it when you edit the picture. I find it is easier to think of it when you are shooting the photo.
Playing With The Rule of Thirds
Lets look at an example. In this picture there is a group of termites that we saw on our amazing Belize Trip In The Jungle!
Just a little info…did you know that termites are full of protein? Our guide on our jungle hike popped them right in his mouth…I swear he had more energy then any of us! I politely declined!
Notice that the picture is centered. Do you even know what is on the finger? Where does your eye naturally go in this picture? My eye gravitates towards the green stalk in the background.
Applying The Rule of Thirds
Now I am going to crop the picture to apply the rule of thirds. Notice that I put the termite right in the upper right intersection.
Now I just cropped it. Can you see the difference? Look at the original picture and now the final picture. Do you have a clear focus on the termites? Does your eye naturally focus on them now?
Now there are many times that you throw the rule of thirds rule right out the window…so don’t live and die by this rule…use it as a guideline.
Multiple Items To Draw Attention To With The Rule Of Thirds
Lets take a look at one more picture. In this picture below I put the fruit salad in the lower left intersection. I also wanted the eye to notice the background a bit so I positioned the pomegranate in the upper right and the orange and bananas in the upper left intersection. I didn’t want full attention on this area so I gave the picture a shallow depth of field (another lesson, coming soon!)
Where does your eye naturally go in this picture? Do you see how the rule of thirds can help your audience interact with your photos more naturally?
As always, I like to include the details of my pictures. As usual, I shot all of these pictures on manual mode. You can learn how to use manual mode in this tutorial: Learn How To Use Manual Mode On Your DSLR Camera With This Easy Photography Tutorial. I used natural light with no flash. I did not use a tripod for any of these photos.
- The pictures of the termites were shot in the jungle and was quite shady. My ISO was 640, the aperture was f/2.8 and the shutter speed was 1/100.
- The picture of the fruit salad was taken indoors near a window with indirect light. My ISO was 800, the aperture was f/1.8 and shutter speed was 1/200.
I edited the pictures slightly by adjusting the exposure a bit, bumping up the saturation and vibrancy a tad and sharpened up the photo. I have a video coming out next week that goes into more details on simple editing techniques. If you should have any questions about any of these elements, please feel free to ask in the comment sections below.
More Great Photography Post ~ Photography, Equipment, Props & More
You can view more great photography post, in our Entire Series of Food Photography, Equipment, Props & More! Until next week…
Do you practice the rule of thirds with your photography?
If so how often do you use this rule?