The Rule of Thirds is one of those basic principles in photography & composition.

Routed in the core basic elements of photography, the Rule of Thirds helps the photographer build the image and the viewer connect… so yeah.. it does work and you should be using it.

Why is the Rule a Rule

Photographs can be complex, we can use the Rule of Thirds to help make our photography more simple for the viewer. Where the lines that mark the ‘thirds’ intersect are called anchor points.

Regardless whether the crop is portrait or landscape, 8×10, 16×9 or 3×1 the Rule of Thirds should be used to plan your frame.

Some images can hold a crop in a few ways, others have to maintain the original framing. This image of Molly, Dolly, Olly & Polly is one of those rare images than can hold it’s own in a wide range of crops. These sorts of images are great for commercial application as the clients can use them in a number of different formats.

Below you have an image of a Portland Bill Lighthouse. This image is ‘anchored’ to the top-left point. The image on the right is anchored to the right.

Depending on where you are in the world, we read either from right to left or left to right. So, which anchor point is dominant will depend on the viewer and how they read images. It’s our job to at least get the most important part of the image one of these four targeted areas. This is how we tell the viewer what the image is about. Using the camera’s ‘Thirds’ overlay (normally found in the display settings ) we can see, in real-time the framing and where these anchor points are. The other tip is to set the crop size in the camera, this will let you see the finished crop as the image is intended. Make sure you shoot in RAW to still get the full sensor crop though.

When looking at my own photography, it seems that most of my photography is dominated or leaning towards the right. I have no idea how or why this is, but, just a thing that I noted when looking for images for this video. The thing to think about is not which side is the dominant side but the other side should be not fighting for attention within the frame. Busy images can work, but it is always better to go for simple compositions and framing.  Next time you are out shooting, have a think about which side of the frame you lean towards. Which Riverside you pick, try and keep the other side of the frame clean from distracting elements.

Check out the video

Correcting for perspective and keeping your verticals vertical

Distortion is the problem. The vertical lines of the building are leaning away, creating a distorted view. This is an effect of the way the lenses have to shape the light coming into a lens. The longer the focal length, the less the light has to be shaped and the less distortion we get. This is one reason why we like to use mid-length focal ranges for portraits and why we get more distortion the wider our focal length is.

There are a few ways to do this, firstly, by using a tilt/shift lens, but if you don’t have one (like me) we are left to correct this in post-processing.

The first thing to remember is that we cannot ‘change’ the perspective in post-production, but we can change how it is shown in a photograph, how it is emphasized (wide-angle lens) or de-emphasized (telephoto lens) when compared to our vision.

Lightroom has some amazing tools to help correct and fix these problems. Check out this blog for more about keeping your verticals vertical. Please do check out the video below too. We went to photograph a stunning Ducati Panigale racebike. 

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