Any photographer will know that there is always room for improvement and that there is no ultimate formula for a great photograph. Photography as an art is fluid and it all depends on the photographer — how they choose the angles, framing, composition techniques and more. That is a concept that we should all understand if we want to improve our skills with the camera.
Part of that concept is something that many (if not most or all) of us have encountered: the Rule of Thirds. This rule is a composition tool, a guideline, a suggestion, and a reminder. It is all of these things but definitely not the secret to being the greatest photographer who ever lived. In this tipster, we count down the ways on how you can use the Rule of Thirds in your own work and how you can get better by using it.
1. The Rule of Thirds isn't all about putting the subject on one side of the frame.
This is a mistake that a lot of beginners make when they study the Rule of Thirds. They automatically think that they need to just place the subject in one side and just forget about the rest of the frame. While it may work in some instances, the chance that it won't be as dynamic as introducing other composition techniques is quite high. Take this photo from @hodachrome as example. It's well-spaced and provides a focal point by using the trees to anchor the viewer's line of sight. It also uses symmetry to keep the attention on the photo from left to right and vice versa. And it works well, right?
2. Use symmetry in your shots.
The Rule of Thirds divides your frame into three equal quadrants. Think of it as gridlines that you see in your head instead of in your camera. These lines will guide you in framing your shot. Your subject can be in the middle even if you use the Rule of Thirds as a guide. This example from @cfehse shows us how it's done correctly as the pillars on both sides of the frame puts the viewer's attention in the middle. There is no negative space on one side that could have totally changed the way the image would have looked.
3. Explore your frame's negative space.
Negative space pertains to the area in your frame that doesn't have the subject in it. It should be free of distractions to keep your viewers' eyes on the subject and other parts of the frame. Use this space wisely. Set your shot in a way that the negative space doesn't look completely empty or noisy to a point that it disrupts the whole balance of the photograph. Leaving that space alone can work well visually as these two examples from @bccbarbosa and @warning show us.
4. Use contrast to make your subject pop out more.
As we said at the beginning of this tipster, the Rule of Thirds should be a guide and that means you shouldn't be afraid to try out different things and improvise along the way. Combine symmetry, lines, and negative space with contrast to make your image more dynamic and engaging. These suggestions can work together when done right and you'll only be able to do that if you practice and be more conscious in your photography. This photograph from @disdis is a good example of this kind of exercise. There's symmetry, the negative space was well used, and there's that contrast brough about by that ray of light. All of those elements worked together to create a great photo.
How about you? How do you use the Rule of Thirds? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section below!