Human Touch

by Kelly Williams June. 04, 2017 1315 views

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.

Human Touch

Human Touch

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.

Applying the Rule of Thirds

Applying the Rule of Thirds

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!

Join the conversation
There are 5 comments , add yours!
Helen Hooker 4 years ago

I'm so pleased you enjoyed my article Kelly - thanks for sharing your take on the rule of thirds!

4 years ago Edited
Russell Smith 4 years ago

I like how you captured a moment that the two subjects that speaks volumes about the connection they are having . The eyes also create strong leading lines that keeps my eye focused on the subjects. On a side note when I was young and learning photography for the first time. It was in the days of film and screwing up shots was an expensive hobby . My mom wanted me to learn rules of thirds . We took a clear plastic magazine cover and drew the thirds lines on it (aka tic-tac-toe board) and put popsicle sticks for a frame then I would use that to practice using rule of thirds until it because second nature . It also allowed me to discover that breaking it sometimes would create a more interesting frame. 20-30 years later I still think of that piece of plastic when I take a picture.

4 years ago Edited
Kelly Williams Replied to Russell Smith 4 years ago

Thanks Russell for your insightful feedback, and for sharing your story of how you 'learned' the rule of thirds!
I'm sure Helen would even find it a great tool to share with beginning photographers.

4 years ago Edited
Heike 4 years ago

The photo is soo cute, Kelly. It's like both are communicating without words.

4 years ago Edited
Kelly Williams Replied to Heike 4 years ago

Thank you Heike, for your positive feedback and sharing 'what you see' within the photograph.
I too, get the same feeling. 
Sometimes the old saying is true - a picture really is worth a thousand words.

4 years ago Edited