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  1. #1
    Moderator of Critiques/Hearder of Cats mtbbrian's Avatar
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    Post Rule of thirds... Do you use it?

    I thought I would post this question due to a comment on a recent photo I posted on the Critique Forum Overlooked image from Red Bull Rampage...
    I got a few comments regarding the "Rule of Thirds"
    You know that "rule" that basically say that you should place your subject in the 1/3 or 2/3 of the frame, so that you give the subject a place to go to or come from in the frame.

    I feel it is a very useful "rule" in the type of photography that I do, not to mention photography in general.

    What are your thoughts?

    Discuss....

    Brian
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  2. #2
    Senior Member racingpinarello's Avatar
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    In general..yes it's important

    All rules are meant to be broken, but overall there is a lot of merit in that rule. You can interpret that rule many ways, so there is still a lot of freedom.



    Loren
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  3. #3
    don't tase me, bro! Asylum Steve's Avatar
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    Ah, Brian, you just wanted to get...

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbbrian
    I thought I would post this question due to a comment on a recent photo I posted on the Critique Forum Overlooked image from Red Bull Rampage...
    I got a few comments regarding the "Rule of Thirds"
    You know that "rule" that basically say that you should place your subject in the 1/3 or 2/3 of the frame, so that you give the subject a place to go to or come from in the frame.

    I feel it is a very useful "rule" in the type of photography that I do, not to mention photography in general.

    What are your thoughts?

    Discuss....

    Brian
    ...more people to take a look at your cool bike shot!

    Photo composition is one of the things I like to talk about most (of photo related things that is), but I can tell you, like many of the topics we churn up here, this one probably has folks on all sides.

    FWIW (and I don't think I'm breaking any new ground here), you can be extremely creative using both a symmetrical balance in your composition as well as an asymmetrical balance. The two are simply different...

    Some even combine the two, say a frontal square shot of a face, symmetrical side to side, but with the eyes at the upper third spot of the vertical frame.

    Obviously, the rule of thirds has a lot going for it, and most would say it's a tool that should be learned by anyone wanting to improve their visual and picture taking skills, but as we've witnessed here before, some start to take it a little TOO literally, worrying so much about a perfectly segmented and compartmentalized frame that they forget their subject or even the exposure.

    All things being equal, I actually find a very strong SYMMETRICAL shot more of a challenge, perhaps because I've had the rule of thirds so drummed into me over the years that I compose that way almost subconsciously. In a lot of ways, a symmetrical pose and/or bg pattern requires a lot more attention to detail.
    "Riding along on a carousel...tryin' to catch up to you..."

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  4. #4
    Sitting in a Leaky Dingy Michael Fanelli's Avatar
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    Well...

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbbrian
    I thought I would post this question due to a comment on a recent photo I posted on the Critique Forum Overlooked image from Red Bull Rampage...
    I got a few comments regarding the "Rule of Thirds"...
    I feel it is a very useful "rule" in the type of photography that I do, not to mention photography in general.

    What are your thoughts?

    Brian
    As with any rule, it is useful when it's usefulness is useful. In other words, the rule of thirds exists because it improves composition in many cases. It forces the photographer to think about how the eye will look at the results.

    On the other hand, some photographers become a slave to this rule. I remember a few years ago when the critique of a photo of mine was "you didn't use the rule of thirds." When I asked how that would improve the composition, I got back the equivalent of "It's a rule so good photographers will always use it." In this case, the rule of thirds would have led to a poor result.

  5. #5
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    Principles of Art and Architecture

    The codification of the principles of art and architecture was begun by at least the time of the ancient Greeks and continues to this day.
    These principles, as related to photography, were and are, simply a set of guidelines to aid in the study of composition.
    They help the photographer to avoid stagnet images and cliches.
    These principles were never meant to be blindly followed, to the exclusion of all other ideas. The "Rule of Thirds" is a perfect example of this. The so called "Rule of Thirds" simply says that, generally speaking, a subject that is off center is more interesting then one that is perfectly centered: If the subject is to be off center then the four points, found by tri-secting your frame, vertically and horizontally, is usually the most appealing, visually speaking.
    This gives the photographer a starting point for planning the composition.
    In other words, if the photographer does not have a better idea, this "rule of thirds" may rescue the image or at least provide them with a competent image.
    The amount of attention paid to the "Rule Of Thirds" would lead one to believe that it is, if not the only principle of composition, certainly the most important one.
    Nothing could be furthur from the truth.
    There are dozens of principles which can be applied to photography.
    The use of vertical lines, horizontal lines, s-curves, diagonals, placement, symmetry, asymmetry, colour, use of DOF, center of focus, decreasing size, increasing size, juxtaposition, lighting style, etc., etc., etc.....
    All of them are important!!!
    The study of the principles of art and architecture help to prevent us from reinventing the wheel every time we make a photograph.
    They are an aid to good design, not rules to be broken.
    Composition is about making the photograph work, not about making or breaking rules.
    A good photographer makes use of all the tools at their command, using them selectively, as the situtation demands and inventing new ones, if needed.
    ???If you don't know the "principles", "rules", then how do you know if you are breaking them???
    "Rules are made to be broken" is an overused cliche, an excuse for not knowing or not being able to articulate an idea or concept.

    Fitz

  6. #6
    Ghost
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    I think the rule of thirds works. But when it doesn't work you shouldn't use it.

  7. #7
    Freestyle Photographer Hodgy's Avatar
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    I remember when I started shooting weddings for the studio. I would get harped on and harped on because I would place my subject directly in the centre of the image. It was just there. PLA!!

    I started looking at other photogs images and started noticing the compositions.

    Now, I always have that rule in the back of my mind when I am shooting. Sure it can be broken, but the image has to support it, otherwise it just looks PLAAAAAA!.

    You image works,

    Personally though, I would have changed composition.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Rule of thirds... Do you use it?-thirds.jpg  

  8. #8
    Wisconsin Cheesehead Spike's Avatar
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    Little ol' me?

    Yep, I use it. But I don't really think about it, it just sort of happens. I find that when I'm composing my shots the compositions that look best to me usually happen to follow this rule.

    Spike

  9. #9
    vermicious knid kafin8ed's Avatar
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    I use it sometimes, just so I can break it.

    The big reason I suggested the crop is because I find the lower left corner distractingly dark, hence the crop makes sense, additionally it bring the subject out of the gutter (ie the fold in the center of the magazine). I'm always thinking in terms of magazine composition. That's why I shoot 75% vertically. Horizontal shots need to be composed carefully to get that two page spread. That doesn't mean there aren't any great shots out there that are horizontally shot with a centered subject, it just means they probably won't get published in a 2-page spread.
    Last edited by kafin8ed; 02-01-2004 at 11:09 PM.
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  10. #10
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    Guideline more than rule

    The Rule of Thirds for me is more of a guideline. Really just another tool in the bag of tricks that can be pulled out to make a good photograph, or try to make a good one.

    Sometimes it works other times it doesn't. I try to shoot with it and without sometimes to see how it affects the mood of the picture.

    Dennis

  11. #11
    Just a Member Chunk's Avatar
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    If you need a rule of thirds...

    ...you can borrow mine. ;)

    Yes, I use the rule of thirds roughly to keep my composition off center generally. I often like to place a subject even more off center than the rule calls for. The reason is to keep shots from feeling absolutely anchored and unmoveable. This may be less necessary with the very active subject matter that you often display but I think the image you refer to would be enhanced if the rider were placed further to the left. It would give more space for the subject to move into.

    If you don't normally use the rule of thirds while shooting, I'd recommend that you try it for a couple weeks and see how you like the results.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Rule of thirds... Do you use it?-mcardle3.jpg  

  12. #12
    Just a Member Chunk's Avatar
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    Sorry

    Here's the 'rule of thirds' I was going to lend you. I grabbed the wrong file.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  13. #13
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Use Chunk's ruler and you can't go wrong! I think I said this before, but a jazz drummer told me once that "you gotta know the rules before you can break them!".

    Alot of times the rule of thirds can lead to a stronger photograph. But like anything, if alI of your shots clearly follow this rule (like tilting the camera, motion blur, etc) it will start to get old.

  14. #14
    Moderator of Critiques/Hearder of Cats mtbbrian's Avatar
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    Talking Funny!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chunk
    Here's the 'rule of thirds' I was going to lend you. I grabbed the wrong file.
    LOL Chunk!
    Don't quite your day job!

    Thanks for the comic relief.

    Brian
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    A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed, and is, thereby, a true manifestation of what one feels about life in its entirety... - Ansel Adams

    "Photography Is An Act Of Life" - Maine 2006

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