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07-31-2012, 09:52 PM   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by fuent104 Quote
Can you post some examples? I feel like that would help the conversation.
Something like



Is what I'm talking about.

07-31-2012, 10:03 PM   #32
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Here's a shot on a plain background to illustrate that composition is still just as important. I've used golden rectangles and triangles and a Fibonacci spiral as compositional aids to crop this shot in post. Also notice that Natalia, my subject, is looking in towards the center of the frame, that's another rule I almost always abide by.




07-31-2012, 10:30 PM   #33
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I believe the most important thing to understand about the rule of thirds is that it's a (learned) aesthetic. The rule is a simplification of the golden ratio (aprox. 1.62), which is a recurring pattern in nature. Even our bodies follow that ratio (for instance, our legs to our torso), therefore we tend to find everything following this ratio *balanced*. Note that I haven't said it makes your composition automatically perfect, just familiar. Sometimes you want the exact opposite because you want tension, so you depart as much as possible from that ratio.

Also, it's an acquried aesthetic, that dates back from the Greeks. Other cultures have other aesthetics and, therefore, dont necessarly follow the same ratios. An example is east asian culture, where the square (and as consequence, the triangle) appear more frequently than the rectangle. That is attributed to their calligraphy, where each ideogram is roughly the same size and equally spaced, so the square is the smallest unit of visual information. Other difference is that they are used to writing vertically, so an aspect ratio that is taller than wider is better accepted than in the west, where we favour 4:3 (and now 16:9) aspects.

I deeply recommend studying more about this stuff, not just for photography, but to understand how we see and process visual information, and how biological and cultural biased affect ir. It's fascinating stuff.

Last edited by hcarvalhoalves; 07-31-2012 at 10:37 PM.
08-01-2012, 02:09 AM   #34
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
If you like your subject centered, fine, as long as you are happy I'm happy for you. But don't expect to get many images accepted at art galleries or stock sites.
Excellent discussion and info everyone! But this is exactly what I'm talking about! Or the above what jtrax said is what I'm confused by. Why is it that if I took a rare photo of something and I wanted to submit it to a contest or art gallery, it might get rejected or not place good if the subject is centered and not off the the side as when using the ROT! Seriously! Why is it that I get the impression that it's not a good shot unless it's...not centered! Is it's just one of those things that "everyone's doing it"? Or kind of like that actor that played the vampire guy in "Twilight", if his hair isn't messed up then it doesn't look good? I don't know. I completely understand how to set up a shot using the ROT whether it's landscape or a subject. What I don't understand is why is my photos not "adequate" in the photography world if I don't use it?

Example:
PROFESSIONAL: "That's the most amazing photo of Bigfoot drinking a beer I have EVER seen! Wow! Look at the beautiful background of Yellowstone National Park! But I have some bad news for you. You're shot is inadequate because Bigfoot is in the center of the shot!"
ME: "But you can still...cleeeearly see big foot drinking a cold one! He is in focus and the background looks stunning as well! I got everything I need in my shot but you're telling me because my subject...the most important part of the picture is CENTERED...it's not adequate?!?!"
PROFESSIONAL: "I think so!"

My new, fellow photographers...this is what I am boggled by! I truly enjoy reading what everyone has to say and I'm talking it all into consideration but this is just beyond me!

08-01-2012, 02:21 AM   #35
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BTW I love the example photos that you guys posted! I do see where the ROT applies with the landscape and the subjects, but as with the subjects...IMO...would be just as good of a photo if they were centered. I guess this is just something I'm going to have to accept. Like everyone else over the past 1000s of years? Maybe? That everyone just accepted this ROT as the standard or something and that now it's doctrine or "the acceptable thing to do". But at the same time, I don't want to "just accept it" without understanding it first.
08-01-2012, 04:12 AM   #36
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If you have a picture of Bigfoot, your subject supersedes technique. Any picture of Bigfoot will do...film, digital, b&w, color, fuzzy, poor white balance....doesn't matter. But, unless you only take pictures of Bigfoot, it helps to know how people will view and react to your photos. And really, that's what it's all about...sharing your view of the world with others. If you don't know the guidelines for how people view images, it's like trying to communicate without speaking the language. You can do it, but not as well as if you were fluent.
08-01-2012, 08:20 AM   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by shocktroop5811 Quote
Excellent discussion and info everyone! But this is exactly what I'm talking about! Or the above what jtrax said is what I'm confused by. Why is it that if I took a rare photo of something and I wanted to submit it to a contest or art gallery, it might get rejected or not place good if the subject is centered and not off the the side as when using the ROT! Seriously! Why is it that I get the impression that it's not a good shot unless it's...not centered! Is it's just one of those things that "everyone's doing it"? Or kind of like that actor that played the vampire guy in "Twilight", if his hair isn't messed up then it doesn't look good? I don't know. I completely understand how to set up a shot using the ROT whether it's landscape or a subject. What I don't understand is why is my photos not "adequate" in the photography world if I don't use it?

Example:
PROFESSIONAL: "That's the most amazing photo of Bigfoot drinking a beer I have EVER seen! Wow! Look at the beautiful background of Yellowstone National Park! But I have some bad news for you. You're shot is inadequate because Bigfoot is in the center of the shot!"
ME: "But you can still...cleeeearly see big foot drinking a cold one! He is in focus and the background looks stunning as well! I got everything I need in my shot but you're telling me because my subject...the most important part of the picture is CENTERED...it's not adequate?!?!"
PROFESSIONAL: "I think so!"

My new, fellow photographers...this is what I am boggled by! I truly enjoy reading what everyone has to say and I'm talking it all into consideration but this is just beyond me!
A lot depends on the intended use of the photograph. Like I said above, if you are happy with your results then don't lose any sleep over it. I spent the first 20 years of photography at a job where the 'artistic' aspects of a photograph were completely irrelevant. The only thing that mattered was accurately recording things for future reference or reports. I had never heard of the rule of thirds, and could care less. However, I now have the time to study photography more as an art form rather than as a means of recording something. That means you not only have to have the image technically correct, but have it aesthetically pleasing as well. The rule of thirds and all of the other guides are just ways that other artists over many years have managed to make art that people like. Studies have shown that people (in general) like an image that has certain characteristics. So if you want to please those people (and sell them stuff) then you follow the rules. Of course once you are a famous artist, then you get to break the rules and people still buy your stuff. So, as I noted above rule of thirds really has nothing to do with photography, it is an art rule. If you are not trying to make art, then forget you ever heard of it.

These guides are taught in art class because it is a way to show students what works and what doesn't just like in driver's education they teach you to drive on the right side of the road (unless you drive on the left in your country). Is driving on the right always correct? No, not always but it is a good rule to follow until you understand when it is not a good thing, and hopefully by then you have enough experience to understand why it is a rule and when to use it and when not to use it.

Unless you are submitting to stock agencies, contests, or galleries don't worry about it. But if you are, those folks expect you to follow certain rules. Does the work look any better? It doesn't matter if you cannot get in the door.
08-01-2012, 08:47 AM   #38
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Also, 'dead center' doesn't exclude the RoT either.

In playing with self portraiture, more often than not I wind up mugshotting myself, or mugshotting my subject (usually my kid/s). Even if something is centered, the rule will often come into play in some subtle way. In most cases, if you check where the eyes are, you'll find them right in that 'area'. The only time that it really looks obvious that its being 'broken' is of its a 'distant' shot, which probably won't (usually) be a keeper anyway since it means your subject isn't going to be very clear.

Believe it or not, all three of these shots have the RoT coming into play to one degree or another, even if its just stretching the rule wildly in doing so.








08-01-2012, 10:18 AM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kona Quote
Is what I'm talking about.
The example you posted falls pretty nicely into a rule of thirds situation. If you look at the negative space, the left and right thirds of the photo are completely black. This is no accident. That immage could have been cropped more closely, but the space frames the subject nicely. The thing on her wrist is pretty much at the intersection of two thirds, and her eyes are just about on a line according to "rule of sixths."

Can you post some examples of your own photos?
08-01-2012, 09:22 PM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by fuent104 Quote
Can you post some examples of your own photos?
That is one of my shots.

Some more:





08-01-2012, 10:58 PM   #41
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kona Quote
That is one of my shots.
Wow. I didn't even realize it was a photograph! I thought it was some sort of still frame from an animation, or a computer-generated image!
08-01-2012, 11:11 PM   #42
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QuoteOriginally posted by fuent104 Quote
Wow. I didn't even realize it was a photograph! I thought it was some sort of still frame from an animation, or a computer-generated image!
Well, they are all designed via CG these days, the first one is even 3D printed. Still painted by hand though. And of course they are all figures of anime characters.
08-02-2012, 01:51 AM   #43
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In your photographs you have oriented the anime dolls so they are facing directly forward (esp the eyes). I think the second doll in particular could face the left and then you will want to minimize the space behind her and allow for some space in front of her. With some creativity you might find that trying the rule of thirds adds a little to your photos. For you I would specifically try repositioning the anime dolls but it will be a little difficult.

Overall I like trying to move subject from the center of the frame because I usually don't like symmetry in a photo. When I pick my favorites usually the main subject is located on one of the left/right/top/bottom thirds. In the end photography is about taking photos that you like though. Here are a few examples of what I'm talking about.

















08-05-2012, 08:34 AM   #44
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Wow, so many badly cropped examples in this thread
08-09-2012, 03:36 PM   #45
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I never really appreciated the rule of third much until I read a couple of photography books that showed examples of how it works (or how centered shots don't work). Someone learning really needs to see good AND bad examples of the various techniques. Centering a shot isn't inherently bad as many have pointed out. I think the rule of thirds is really there to help when you see something that might otherwise be boring. If the subject is interesting already, then you don't need a whole lot of help with a rule.

I tend to think about the rule as providing a means of adding dynamics to an otherwise still image. People instinctively start looking at an image at the center. If all you care about for the viewer is at the center that is fine. However, viewers quickly pass by images that don't engage them to look around. Even on a plain background an off-centered image forces your viewer to engage in looking around the image even if for the quick step of finding the subject. There have been many great examples here where centering wouldn't have worked.

The other thing that I think makes these rule of thumbs work well is an appreciation of negative spaces. In landscapes, I find the rule of thirds works really well in conjunction with your horizon and sky. The sky as a negative space can really add emphasis and magnitude to what isn't negative. It's really interesting when you give it a try. In a wide open space, using the sky to fill up the upper 2/3 of the image makes the image feel even more wide.

Ultimately, it is just a matter of taste. Those artists who really end up being the best at their craft usually are because they do something unique, and that can mean not following the rule of 1/3's or other popular combinations. It really just helps those of us who need the rule of thumb in the first place.

I would mostly encourage someone to look at some composition books from a library or even browsing at a book-store and look at examples and see what is stated or not about image proportions and ratios.
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