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New Photos For C&C After Trying the Rule of Thirds


TPF Noob!
Apr 12, 2009
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After my last post, I took a look at this link posted by Samanax about photo composition. Digital Photography Tips and Tutorials

I read through all the articles there and went out to practice. I'm not quite sure I understood the Rule of Thirds but I tried. The only thing is that I'm not sure that my photos look any better when I tried to practice it. Some of them I think actually turned out worse but that may be because the photo was overall boring.

Please take a look at these photos and tell me if I'm understanding the Rule of Thirds correctly or not and what I could work on in the photos.

(1) I made this photo brighter, softened the background and gave it a zoom effect.


(2) I don't think the background on this one is very good so I tried to blur it out.


(3) I haven't done anyhing to this one yet.


(4) I have not done anything to this photo either.

I have to tell you outright, I really really don't like the zoom thing. It feels more like a gimmick that something really intended to improve the viewer's experience.

I have to say after looking at the last pictures that I think that they were better. However, that's probably mostly because the subjects were just more interesting in general.

I noticed one critique in the last post about the subject facing into the frame rather than away from it, which you tried here in this post. Traditionally that's correct, but traditional is also usually really boring. I found the picture of the boy facing away from the frame a lot more interesting than the picture of the girl facing into it.

That's probably partially because his facial expression is just more compelling, but also I think the composure isn't so sterile.

Composition is as much about placing subjects in the frame as it about knowing what shouldn't be in the frame--even knowing what not to take a picture of at all. The photograph of the girl, for example, is composed correctly, but unless you're documenting an event in which the background is an important element of the story telling, because of the background, this image probably just shouldn't have been taken.

Similar goes for the flower. The flower is done well, but the structure in the background bulges out on the left in an awkward way.

I think the last two pictures simply fall in the category of not-interesting. Possibly even awkward. The picture of the shed is a little too far away to be abstract, and too close to be documentation. Part of that also is the shorter focal length which seems to be subtly distorting the lines.

The picture of the tree is also a bit unsettling. I think it's mostly the horizon. It's only skewed a little. Not enough to be deliberate and too much to be overlooked. I think this image would have been much better from two or three times farther away with a longer lens.

These aren't bad. Especially as they're experimentation with photographic rules. But, I think, from looking at your last post, that you have some built in intuition for composition. Perhaps it isn't refined, but it seems to be there. That would mean you've got some instincts. It's extremely valuable to learn the rules, but only so you know how to break them to produce the most compelling image possible.

I suggest you learn and practice the rules, but let your instinct do the driving.
Ok, thank you for your suggestions. I agree with what you said about photos 3 and 4. The only lens I have to work with is a 6.0 - 72.0mm and it came with the Canon Powershot S3 IS. So all my pictures that I take right now, are taken with this lens until I can get a DSLR. :)
I also agree with what you said on the background on #2. I knew the background was bad but I was mainly going for practicing composition. :)
One thing that might help you in the rule of thirds is to ask yourself, 'What do I want the viewer to be looking at?"

For 1: "the middle of the flower". Does the middle of the flower fall on the intersection of two lines? Yes - then you've followed the rule of thirds! (It's a pretty flower, well exposed, but I don't like the zoom effect either.)

For 2: "the girl's eyes". Bingo! Perfectly placed and in focus. Although the whole blur effect is ruining the photo, for me. It takes away from the subject.

For 3: here you might want to ask yourself why you're taking a picture of a shed. In my opinion, there's nothing in that photo that I would want somebody to look at, so the rule of thirds is null.

I took a look at the photos you posted here, and you actually have the rule of thirds down in all of them. Like the poster above me said, I think you have the ability to compose well in you. Sometimes when we practice hard on technique we forget that we're taking shots of a boring subject, or perhaps we're not enjoying ourselves anymore.

Like someone on this forum once said: know the rules now so that you can break them later.
The Rule of Third is a rule, therefor it should be broken.

Not every picture you take has to be according to the rule of thirds.

The shed for example, would be much better if the frame was filled with it, instead of having some blue sky off to the left.

As long as you know when to break the rule of thirds its an ok rule, I prefer to make put the subject where it looks natural in the frame, and take the photo, instead of following a set of gridlines.
Ok, I think I get it now. Even though it is a rule you still need to apply and let your own creativity and style show through the photo. That is what makes a good photo.
I would also suggest to really pay attention to your horizons. The tree shot is way off. The shed is also off. It seems minor, but to me its very noticeable. Of course that may just be me.
Ok, I think I get it now. Even though it is a rule you still need to apply and let your own creativity and style show through the photo. That is what makes a good photo.
Yes, all the 'rules' of composition are meant to be broken at some time or another, but as a beginner you should learn the rules and understand why they exist in the first place.

Understanding photo composition is extremely important if you want to take good pictures. It's something every photographer struggles with..yes, even professionals.

Try sticking to the various rules for now until you understand why they make your picture look better or worse. Once you understand what's going on then it's time to break the rules.

Besides placement of the subject in your frame, there are other things you should be thinking of and working on...one of the most important things is light. What kind of light are you working with? Which direction is it coming from? How is it affecting your subject? How is it not affecting your subject?

Another important thing to consider is the background...watch your backgrounds. Is it too busy? Is it too bright? Is it too dark? Do you want it in focus? Do you want it out-of-focus? Are there elements in it that you don't want in your picture? Are there elements that will improve the feel of your picture?

Also think in terms of positive and negative space and look at the shapes they're creating.

Photo composition isn't something you're going to 'get' in a short amount of time. You have to keep working at it and keep pushing yourself to understand it and make it work for you and your images. A free-lance professional friend of mine once told me that I shouldn't expect to take really great pictures until I reach my 7th year of shooting...I've only been shooting for 15 months now and I know my pictures are not anywhere near the quality of his...he's been shooting over 20 years. It takes time and lots of practice. Don't rush it.

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