Assignment 17: Rule of Thirds

This is my contribution to Scott’s Assignment 17: Rule of Thirds. I hope you will join because Scott is giving away a free spot in Kent Weakley’s next eClass on Composition starting on January 20, 2012. The winner will be randomly drawn from the assignment submissions and deadline for the assignment is January 18, 2012.

The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds both horizontally and vertically so that you have 9 parts, and where the lines meet and form a + are the points of interest or focal point, and in this case you have 4 intersections, see Scott’s post Power of Three for more detail.

If I used the rule of thirds to compose my image I would normally look at my AF points as the indicator or imaginary grid-lines to help me place my focal point. This works well for me when I’m close to the subject but it is harder when the subject is too far away.  Like tonight, I photographed the full moon and couldn’t compose my image using the rule of thirds. This is the best that I could do and I placed the moon in the center since I used auto focus to focus the moon, and switched to manual focus right before I took the picture since there were lots of clouds floating above and I didn’t want my moon image to come out blurry, image straight out from my camera.

The next best thing is to crop the image using the rule of thirds, and the next 2 images are my results.

Sometimes the exact rule of thirds doesn’t look right to me and I think it is okay to break the rule. In this picture below the moon is still on the lines but the center is not at the intersection.

And this one also, what is interesting to me tonight is not just the moon but the sky also.

Exif data: Canon T2i, EF70-200mm f/4L USM lens, Manual, f/8, 1/3sec, ISO 100, focal length 154mm, spot metering, tripod mounted, photo taken on January 7, 2012 at 9:42 pm (21:42)


    • Thanks tuels, I thought I understood the rule of thirds prior to doing this assignment but I kind of forgot about the focal point being at the intersection and only thought about the whole subject being in the rule of thirds area.

      • I do not think one should consider the “Rule of Thirds” as a strict rule, but as a help, you can use in whole or partial to possibly improve an image. Therefore, I also think that you in photo no 4 DO NOT break the rules, but only use a part of it (the moon is in the left part of picture)

        • truels, I used to think that the rule of thirds you divide the image into 4 parts, and as long as the subject covers 3 parts or 1 part of the picture, then you follow the rule of thirds. I guess it only appears that way. I agreed that the last image is closed enough. 🙂

  1. I think that you don’t necessarily have to have an “interest” point at the intersections of those imaginary gridlines – I think my favorite of these shots is the third crop. You did a beautiful job on this moon picture. I always say that I am “chasing the moon” in pursuit of a gorgeous moon picture, and you’ve done it.

    • Thanks Karma, sometimes I forget about the rule of thirds when I compose my images, I guess it hasn’t become a second nature to me yet.

  2. Interesting idea. I never knew there was a rule to this as I just crop my photos and find what looks nice to me.

    As for the moon I like the 1st crop because I like the idea of looking up past the dark sky towards the moon. 🙂

    • Cambree, it’s good to know the basic rule and once you understand it then it’s okay to break it just like everything else in life. 🙂

      I normally go by what looks right to me also, and it’s interesting to see that you can change an image just by cropping it.

  3. I like the last image very much because it has mystery and, to me, a sense of “presence.” It isn’t just the moon, but the moon in space.

    • Thanks Gerry, it’s not very often that I could capture the moon showing the clouds and its surrounding. It was a little wait to let the clouds passed but well worth it. 🙂

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