Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

One of the best-known and most effective compositional techniques is the famous Rule of Thirds. I've covered this idea in some depth in a previous tutorial but it is especially relevant to landscape photography. Rather than having the subject in the centre of the frame try to position the elements of your shot so that horizontal lines such as, obviously, the horizon, and vertical elements such as trees, divide the frame into thirds, like a noughts-and-crosses (tick-tack-toe for our American readers) grid. Frame the shot so that major elements of your picture fall on these grid lines, and particularly where the grid lines intersect.

With the main element of the shot in the centre of the frame, this is just a boring photo of a tree.

By adjusting the composition so the the tree is off centre the shot follows the rule of thirds, and works much better.

Take another look at the simple shot on the first page, of the house in the wheat field with the sea in the background. In this image, the horizon divides the frame along the upper third line, while the house is positioned close to where this line intersects the right third line. There is some shaded detail in the wheat field close to where the bottom third line intersects the left third line, balancing the composition. It's simple but very effective.

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