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3.2: Rule of Thirds

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    This lesson will help you learn and practice Rule of Thirds. In Get the Basics, you'll get explanations and photos to build understanding. In Explore, you'll find additional online resources to learn more. It's important to review and learn from these resources also! You'll have opportunities to practice in Build Your Skills. Finally, answer the questions in Record Your Findings at the end of this topic, be sure to include information you learned from the Explore resources.

    Get the Basics

    Beginners point-and-shoot with their point-and-shoot digital cameras – usually with the subjects right in the middle of the photos. One of the first rules of photo composition is the rule of thirds. Using this rule, the subject is NOT in the middle. Here’s how it works: In your mind, divide the photo area into thirds with two equally-spaced horizontal and vertical lines.

    rule of thirds grid

    Place the most important part of your photo at one of the four intersections. This creates a photo that is balanced, interesting, and pleasing to the eye.

    bird with rule of thirds grid overlay

    Many digital cameras have a setting which overlays a rule of thirds grid on the screen. This can be very helpful as you practice your rule of thirds photocomposition. See if your digital camera has this setting.


    Before shooting your own rule of thirds photos, learn more about the rule of thirds at Photoble:

    Learn more with annotated examples at Rule of Thirds from Photography Mad:

    Finally, see the rule of thirds applied to amazing photos at Superb Rule-of-Thirds Photography from Abduzeedo:

    Build Your Skills

    Shoot four or more pairs of photos. For the first photo in each pair, place the subject in the center of the photo. For the second photo in each pair, apply the rule of thirds by placing the subject on one of the four intersections. Try different subjects, like a tree, a person, or a pet.

    Compare your centered/rule of thirds photo pairs. Select FOUR pairs. Share your photo pairs with your teacher, and be prepared to discuss how they show what you’ve learned. Download your photos to a computer to keep them for the portfolio you’ll create in the end-of-course final project.

    Record Your Findings

    • What is the rule of thirds?
    • Why is the rule of thirds important?
    • Describe how you applied the rule of thirds in each of the four photo pairs you selected?


    Image Reference Attributions

    [Figure 1]

    Credit: Stephen Politzer, April 17, 2014
    Source: course author: offline

    [Figure 2]

    Credit: Krister; March 25, 2007

    This page titled 3.2: Rule of Thirds is shared under a CK-12 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by CK-12 Foundation via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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