In her follow-up article to "20 photography composition tips that will get you beautiful photos" Helen Hooker takes a closer look at the Rule of Thirds. In "How to Improve Your Photos With Rule of Thirds – 6 Stunning Samples", Helen points out that the Rule of Thirds is more of a guideline than a stead-fast rule to be followed, and details the science behind the rule and why it works.
She states that "studies have shown the human eye naturally goes to these intersection points" created by the Rule of Thirds, and that "by placing your subject off-center, you are making the most of this natural inclination and it makes your photo easier to read".
She also adds that the Rule of Thirds can be used to:
- Find order within a photograph
- Seek out balance in a photograph
- Create energy and movement in a photograph
- Enhance Landscape photographs by placing the horizon higher or lower in the frame, and
- Establish a Human Touch in a photograph.
The photograph below is an example of Helen's last point - 'establishing a Human Touch' within a photograph.
The photograph was captured with a Nikon D7100 DX camera and a AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8 GII ED lens, in both RAW and JPG formats, at a focal length of 200mm, iso-3200, f/2.8, at 1/125 sec with no flash.
In the screen capture from Photoshop CC 2015 below, you can see the Rule of Thirds grid appears as an overlay on top of the photograph, when cropping the photograph with the 'Rule of Thirds' option selected.
In applying the Rule of Thirds, I cropped the original photo so that the upper-right intersection of the grid lines is placed directly above Samantha's left eye, and the lower-left intersection of the grid lines is placed directly above the baby's right eye.
I purposely selected the 'outside' eye of each subject because it encloses the 'visual connection' within the 'center' of the frame, and creates a sense of tension between them. As you look at the photograph, do you find your mind's eye jumping between Samantha and the baby, perhaps wondering what each of them is thinking? I certainly do!
As we've seen, although not a hard and fast rule, the Rule of Thirds can enhance certain compositions, making the photograph feel more natural and pleasing to the human eye. As Helen states you should "take the rule of thirds out for a spin", and then be sure to share the results of your experimentation with the rest of the world – post them to your blog, or why not pop over to Helen's Blog Post and include them in the comments. I'm sure she would love to see your work!