If you like to take photographs and want to make them better, there are a few tricks that can help you capture great images even with your smartphone. Since your eye automatically recognizes good composition when it sees it, I’ll teach you the basic tips in a five-part series of blogs that will make your photographs even better. The first one is the Rule of Thirds.
Actually, the first rule of all photography is this: Photographers do not shoot; they capture images. Photographers do not take pictures; they take photographs. You are an artist; not a serial killer.
But the first rule of landscape photography is the rule of thirds. The photo attached to this blog and repeated below is one I took recently after I turned down the road to my home in rural Kansas. I’ve seen some beautiful skies in Kansas, but this was one of the oddest formations that I had ever seen. And, since it was near dusk- a time when the evening light is perfect- I had the magnificent sienna light from the setting sun illuminating the grasses in the pasture. I almost always carry my camera with me because moments like this simply cannot be re-created. I jumped out of my car and captured this image; my camera stopped time and froze the light.
I applied one of the simplest forms of composition called the rule of thirds. It’s pretty simple, really, you just divide the scene both vertically and horizontally into thirds, like a tic-tac-toe.
To make a composition interesting, place something:
- If it’s horizontal, place it on one of the horizontal lines.
- If it’s vertical, place it on one of the vertical lines.
- Place an object at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical lines.
Notice the photo: While not exactly in thirds, I have placed the horizon in the lower third while I place the vertical shaft of light on the right third. On this photo, I intentionally pushed the rule of thirds to let the sky dominate.
Here is another photo that illustrates the rule of thirds. I have placed the speed limit sign at the intersection of the right vertical and top horizontal line. I have placed the signpost on the right vertical line.
This makes for a much more interesting composition than this one.
Even if all you have is your smartphone on you, find something to photograph right where you are. Take a photo using the rule of thirds and position an object accordingly, then take one without. Look at the difference; see what I mean?
The next lesson will be about Chasing the Light. Stay tuned…