Digital Photography Tip – the rule of thirds

Here’s a basic digital photography tip trick that every photographer should know – the one third rule to compose the picture. When I mentioned it to a friend, he was surprised that there was such a rule. It was such a basic rule that a photographer should at least learn about this before embarking on his digital photographic adventure.

Why the one third rule? If you place your subject dead center in the picture it tends to make the picture rather dead. The idea is that by placing the subject matter off-center it will create a more interesting picture composition. If you study most of the famous photos including arty movies, the subject will nearly always be placed at about one third in the picture composition. Of course there is exception to the rule, but most of the time this one third rule is followed to make the picture more interesting.

Here's one digital photography tip using the one third rule to take this landscape photo. I placed the building and the horizon on one third while capturing the stunning twilight sky. Picture of Komtar building in Penang taken from a hotel room.

If you bought a compact digital camera nowadays, there is a setting to leave a tic-tac-toe like lines on the LCD display. If you had been wondering what the use for it previously, scratch your head no more, because now you know what is the purpose. It is used as guide to place your subject matter. The guide lines will divide the LCD into sections of thirds horizontally and vertically. The guidelines will assist in your photo composition as you place your subject matter at any of the lines depending on how you want to capture the picture.

The horizontal guideline has another purpose especially for landscape photography. This handy little line not only can be used to place the horizon on a third in keeping with the rules of thirds, but also to help you ensure the horizon or any composition lines are straight.

However this rule cannot be followed strictly as there are times the rules do not apply. Rules are meant to be broken as they said. There are times a subject dead on in the center may be more appropriate, at other times, the subject matter is placed at the edge of the picture to create a photo with more impact or to convey some kind of message. This require some judgment to the situation whether to use the one third rule, to break it or to use another technique.

One third rule digital photo tipBut basically following this one third do get you some interesting snapshots. Whether you are using a DSLR, a compact camera, or even your mobile phone camera, you can achieve some interesting photo shoot. Like they said, it’s not the equipment; it’s the person behind the lens that determines how well a picture will turn out. Of course good equipment helps and a whole lot of other factors come in. Mastering a few basic techniques can improve the picture many fold.

I’ll leave you here to digest this basic tip and with the advent of digital photography, there’s no need to worry about film development cost. So keep on shooting!

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