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07-31-2012, 05:50 AM   #1
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"Rule of Thirds"

Ok...I'm not jumping into this question without having done a little research about this. I'm been a photography enthusiast for a while now, especially since I've live in Japan for two years, and I've decided to take my hobby to the next level. I'm really creative with my shots too! So I bought a K-5 and I will be picking it up tomorrow! Since I've started to really learn about photography and the three settings and DOF and composition and everything else, the "Rule of Thirds" seem to be very important! So my question is...why? What's the big deal if the subject is on one of the intersection lines or right in the middle!? As long as the picture is in focus and straight what does it matter if the rule of thirds applies or not? Is it one of those thing where someone thought it was a good ideal so everyone started doing it so that just became the standard? Is it supposed to be more pleasing to the eye? Is it just "The thing to do"? Can someone please explain this concept to me so I can have a better understanding as to why it's soooo important? Thanks!

07-31-2012, 06:00 AM   #2
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I'm with you on this one: I know what the rule of thirds is and how it works. It's supposed to be more pleasing to the eye, but I think my eyes are immune to it! I don't find a picture that adheres to the rule of thirds more pleasing to the eye then one that has the subject bang in the middle.
07-31-2012, 06:02 AM   #3
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I think the best way to explain it is look at the postings of Mike Cash in the takumar club. Mike also did some posts a while back about how he corps images, you should look them up too.

I think the real issue is that things look better when divided in odd increments, and thirds are the lowest odd increment there is. I am not sure I can explain it properly but you will see things do look better, try it yourself, deliberately shoot wider than necessary, then crop with the same size frame, both centered and rule of thirds. The rule of thirds, adds depth to the shot, I think, which is more pleasing
07-31-2012, 06:06 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by shocktroop5811 Quote
...the "Rule of Thirds" seem to be very important! So my question is...why? What's the big deal if the subject is on one of the intersection lines or right in the middle!?
It's just a guideline, even though it's called "a rule". Sometimes it's better to use it...sometimes it's not. It's very similar to something you expressed in your next sentence.


QuoteQuote:
As long as the picture is in focus and straight what does it matter if the rule of thirds applies or not?
Who says a picture has to be in focus and straight? What does it matter? Does that always apply? The answer is, "No...it doesn't". Sometimes it's better to shoot things on a tilt...or to have most or all of the picture less than sharp. In a few days, when the entries in this month's contest of "Motion" are posted, I'll bet you'll see plenty of examples of pics that aren't all sharp.

07-31-2012, 06:10 AM   #5
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Rule of thirds is a good way to instill a composition that puts the subject first and foremost. If you know how to use it and choose not to, that's perfectly fine. But if you don't know it at all, your compositions may not be capable of emphasizing the subject to most viewers.
07-31-2012, 06:20 AM   #6
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I'm certainly no expert and sometimes struggle with composition. But I personally think the rule of thirds is fantastic ... most of the time. However, there are some instances where it just doesn't make sense. Macro photography is often an example, though you can use it there, depending on your subject.

For me, it's something I always look at and try out. But sometimes it just doesn't work. In those cases, I just don't use it.
07-31-2012, 06:37 AM   #7
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I also fail to understand it. I just don't "get it". I centre what I'm taking a shot of, and that's that. It's the subject, why shouldn't it be in the centre? I don't care about the background in the vast majority of cases, so why should I try to get more of it in frame? Granted, I don't take photos of people, but the "rule" seems to be thrown about for any photography.
07-31-2012, 06:42 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kona Quote
I also fail to understand it. I just don't "get it". I centre what I'm taking a shot of, and that's that. It's the subject, why shouldn't it be in the centre? I don't care about the background in the vast majority of cases, so why should I try to get more of it in frame? Granted, I don't take photos of people, but the "rule" seems to be thrown about for any photography.
I use it mostly for landscape - putting the horizon at either one of the horizontal lines.

I wouldn't put a person right in the center of my frame - if I align the subject's eyes to the top third line, the image comes out quite good. Does it need to be there, necessarily? No - but it's an easy rule to get a good portrait until one can think for oneself.

07-31-2012, 06:51 AM   #9
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Guys, relax, it's the Thumb Rule of Thirds, not an absolute edict. A starting point as it were. The Photo Police will not come knocking on your door should you fail to use it.

Some of us might poke a bit of fun at you for not doing it though.
07-31-2012, 06:54 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by bimjo Quote
Guys, relax, it's the Thumb Rule of Thirds, not an absolute edict. A starting point as it were. The Photo Police will not come knocking on your door should you fail to use it.

Some of us might poke a bit of fun at you for not doing it though.
The Photo Police will come though, if you do a self portrait with a duck face. I know that from experience
07-31-2012, 07:24 AM   #11
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Here are some things I've learned in my recent photo classes. This may help explain the rule of thirds (ROT). You have to know the rule to know when to break it.

The rule of thirds.



It's explained here in even more detail:
rule of thirds

As a landscape shooter, I tend to live by this rule more and more. One thing I've learned about the ROT is that it not just for photography and, IIRC comes from painting.
07-31-2012, 07:44 AM   #12
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It's funny. I have had people ask me occasionally, "Why don't you crop that a bit to get rid of that empty space?" I guess people see things differently.
07-31-2012, 07:59 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
Here are some things I've learned in my recent photo classes. This may help explain the rule of thirds (ROT). You have to know the rule to know when to break it.

The rule of thirds.



It's explained here in even more detail:
rule of thirds

As a landscape shooter, I tend to live by this rule more and more. One thing I've learned about the ROT is that it not just for photography and, IIRC comes from painting.
Exactly, I agree it's very useful in landscapes in particular. If you struggle with "seeing" the thirds you can get rule of thirds screens that make the composition faster (or if you are shooting landscapes i think their is a grid overlay in Liveview on some of the cameras but i don't have one handy to check)
look at old master paintings the rule of thirds is very evident
07-31-2012, 08:10 AM   #14
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It is not a rule, it is a guide. As noted, understand it and know when to use and when to not.
It is not a 'photography' rule it is an 'art' rule, it goes back to Greek architecture and continues from there with many great artists exploring it.
It is not one rule but many: rule of thirds, golden ratio, triangle rule, golden mean, diagonal lines. These are all guides that have been used throughout history to help artists achieve a more pleasing composition. I think Mike Cash uses the diagonal lines crop.

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.
07-31-2012, 08:55 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kona Quote
I also fail to understand it. I just don't "get it". I centre what I'm taking a shot of, and that's that. It's the subject, why shouldn't it be in the centre? I don't care about the background in the vast majority of cases, so why should I try to get more of it in frame?

The background in many case emphasizes the subject. An offset subject tends to make the eye move around a little making the photo a bit more interesting, perhaps.
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