Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is the first mantra that is thrust upon anyone even remotely interested in the art of photography.

The rule states that an image can be divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The four points formed by the intersections of these lines can be used to align features in the photograph. Proponents of this technique claim that aligning a photograph with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the photo than simply centering the feature would.
Take a look at this photograph I took several years ago in Cape Ann, MA.

The horizon sits in the middle of the picture and gives it a very static feeling, when in fact the setting sun has cast a wonderful glow and there is gentle movement in the water. A simple crop that places the horizon near the top of the middle third instead of the middleat the bottom of the upper third dramatically improves the photograph.
With the grid

Without the grid

I used to have a strong preference to press the shutter on a perfectly composed image with ideal in-camera settings. One that does not need any touch up. But then I was introduced to photography greats like Man Ray. Man Ray was indeed ahead of his times. He used various techniques to deliver the effect he had in mind. He jumped through hoops to achieve the effect of solarization, which can be done in a few keystrokes today using Photoshop or Gimp. If I had to use Man Ray's techniques to produce this picture, it would be prohibitively expensive and not worth the time. I did this in less than 15 minutes, from actually taking the image, processing it and uploading it. I have since given up any such pretensions and now, I do crop my images, adjust the levels and apply several post processing techniques. And especially so when I understood that adjusting the settings on my camera before taking the picture is actually in-camera processing. If I were to shoot in RAW, then everything would be post-processing. That is not to say that it is very exhilarating to find a perfect image coming out of the camera.

But, back to rules...

Like every rule, this Rule of Thirds also begs to be broken with an image where the subject or the focus of the photo is in the center. And, it's very simple to create an image like that. But to break the rule and create an image that's good? That's the tough part.

I've been looking for opportunities to break this rule and I think I made a reasonable attempt with my effort for CLICK: Noodles.

bulleye with grid


What do you think?

2 introspections:

bee November 18, 2007 11:08 PM  

there's a balance in the picture, which comes from the radiating lines from the center. plus, there's nothing competing with the focal object.

in such a scenario, one need not apply the rule of thirds.

Manisha November 19, 2007 3:16 PM  

Those are two scenarios in which the Rule of Thirds can be broken: when there is a strong focal point and the image has a strong balance.

However, this (hastily taken and a tad too soft) is also fairly compelling.

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