One quick trick to improve your composition: Use the rule of thirds!
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Monday 06 August
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Hi guys!  For this installment of the Photo Technique series we're going to focus on a basic composition rule called the Rule of Thirds.  For some reason, it is more visually appealing when the subject of an image is positioned to one side rather than right in the center.

This first photograph shows the apple in the center.  It's just ok.  Nothing exciting happening here.  

Here is the same photograh with gridlines dividing up the image into thirds.  It's clear that the apple is positioned right smack in the middle of the image.  In order to make the it a little more dynamic and appealing, it would help to set up the photograph so that the subject (the apple) is located at one of the points where the vertical and horizontal dividing lines cross.


It is important to note that the center or focal point of the subject should be placed where the dividing lines cross.  If positioned somewhere between center and the third, then the image looks imbalanced and it is unclear what you are trying to achieve.

This is the final photograph with the subject on the lower-left third.  


If you have an SLR and you are using auto-focus, there are a few ways to set up a photograph in-camera so that your subject is located on the thirds.

1 - Focus Points - Digital SLRs usually let you change which focus point you are using at any given time.  Many cameras have at least the center focus point and other focus points that are located at the third above and below center as well as to the right and left of center.  Check your manual to learn how to change the active focus point.  It is good practice to have a quick way to change the focus point and to learn how to do it without taking the camera away from your eye.

2 - Focus-Recompose - Using the center focal point in your camera, focus on your subject by pushing the shutter button down halfway.  When the subject is in focus, keep your finger in the same position on the shutter button and recompose the photograph so that the subject is located on one of the thirds.  Then push the shutter button completely to take the shot.  If you've never done it before, it might take a couple of tries to make sure that you've got your finger in just the right place to hold the focus as you move the lens.

3 - Autofocus Lock/Backbutton Focus - This method may sound a little intimidating for those new to SLRs, but it really isn't that scary.  Your dSLR should have an autofocus lock button (located on the back of the camera for Canon users - hence 'backbutton focus').  When you push this button, it sets the focus in the same when you release the autofocus lock button, you can recompose your photograph and take the shot without having to worry about the half-shutter press.  The autofocus lock will stay locked until you release the button.  This is a great tool for situations that require foresight and a quick reaction.

So there you go!  Rule of Thirds.  Love it.  Don't forget to change it up once in a while if you notice that you're always putting your subject on the same third.  

Have fun!


Other posts in this series: Editing an Image

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1 Comment
shufflebot_1 - Interestingly enough, the length and width of the rectangle - created at the center by the intersecting lines - are proportionate through the golden ration, 1.618033... This explains why photos are more visually appealing at these intersection points, because this ratio is biologically programmed into our brains as it depicts the ratio between many of our appendages. Furthermore the closer our proportions get to this ratio the more attractive we are perceived, hence why it is visually stimulating.