If you've seen a tic-tac-toe board, you have a general idea about the photography term "rule of thirds." Essentially, the rule of thirds involves mentally breaking down an image in your viewfinder into nine equal parts, with the imaginary lines resembling a tic-tac-toe board. You then use those horizontal and vertical grid lines to apply the rule of thirds, which helps photographers have better balance in their photos.
Use these tips to use the rule of thirds more efficiently.
- To give your photo a little different look, try placing the point of interest in the photo in one of the four spots where the lines intersect. Most beginning photographers try to center the subject every time, but a slightly off center photo can be more interesting. Just think a little bit ahead of time about the point of interest and where it should be placed in the shot to use the rule of thirds well.
- When shooting a photo with a distinct horizontal or vertical line, try aligning it with one of the off-center imaginary grid lines. This tip works best with a shot of the horizon in a sunset photo, for example.
- Studies show people looking at photos tend to focus first in the areas around the center of the image, but not directly on the center. You can take advantage of this tendency by focusing the subject where these imaginary rule of thirds lines intersect, which are just off center.
- If you have a subject in a setting where the natural flow of the eye will move in a particular direction, try aligning the subject along one intersecting point of the grid lines, with the natural flow moving toward the opposite intersecting point.
- Try using more than one intersecting point of the rule of thirds. For example, with a close-up photo of a person wearing a bright necklace or necktie, try placing the eyes of the subject on one of the upper intersecting points and the necktie or necklace in the corresponding lower intersecting point.
- Finally, if you're a believer in the rule of thirds, but you have a hard time imaging the grid lines, check your camera's user guide. Some cameras have settings that allow you to insert these grid lines on the LCD or in the viewfinder image to help you "see" the rule of thirds. (Obviously, the lines will not appear in your actual photos.)