Rule of Thirds

#filmtipfriday This week we are diving into the Rule of Thirds with an awesome guest post by @witandfolly! Let's dive in!

“The Rule of Thirds is a helpful compositional guide. As with any rule, it really is meant to be broken, so take this more as a helpful suggestion than a requirement.

The Rule of Thirds divides your image into vertical and horizontal thirds.

Why Does the Rule of Thirds work?

The main theory behind the rule is that if you place your main subject along one of these lines, your overall image will be more balanced and interesting.

There are also some deeper psychological reasons why the Rule of Thirds works:

  • Your mind is very powerful and will do everything possible to make order out of chaos. It does this by creating relationships between things to understand them.
  • Odd numbers have more attention-seeking capabilities than even numbers as they take longer for our brain to process.
  • An odd number of elements make a more dynamic and pleasing image.

How to Use the Rule of Thirds:

  • Place your subject on one of the intersections or lines to see what makes the best composition.
  • Decide if you want to emphasize what’s below or above the horizon line. If you want to emphasize the sky, try placing the horizon line on the bottom horizontal third line.
  • Most people in Western societies scan from left to right. So, if you place your main subject on the right third, you'll naturally lead the viewer’s eye to the subject.
  • What is the image going to be about and what should be excluded from the image? Sometimes what’s excluded is more powerful than what’s included.

When Not to Use the Rule of Thirds:

Even though the Rule of Thirds is a great compositional tool, there are some situations where you shouldn’t use this rule:

  • When you want to emphasize the symmetry of an image.
  • When it makes sense to frame your subject in the center of your image.
  • If it just doesn’t make sense to use the Rule of Thirds in the location you’re in.

Check out these 6 examples that use the Rule of Thirds. As you look at each image, notice how the rule is not an exact science when you use it in real-life, but a guide.” — Tom shu of Wit and Folly

Example 2 - Mount Rainier Sunrise Reflection

Example 3 - Moonrise Over Mount Rainier

Example 4 - Top of Rattlesnake Lake

Example 6 - Sunrise Visitor Center

Image #1

All photos by Tom Shu of  Wit and Folly .

All photos by Tom Shu of Wit and Folly.

Learn more about the Rule of Thirds and how it is applied in each shot here!