Rule of Thirds by Chris Fitzjohn

To improve photographic techniques, experiment, find a good teacher, subscribe to magazines, watch instruction CDs, buy books, but here is one simple technique that will improve many of your pictures by 50%. The ‘rule of thirds’ is common to photgraghy and art, basically you are simply moving the subject to the side, in so doing you can also see the background. You can focus mid-way between the subject and the horizon but the best method is to focus on the subject. This again is easy, with most cameras.

Lock the Focus on the subject by pressing and holding the shutter halfway down, next simply move the camera until the subject is to the side, then complete the shutter movement. So the subject is no longer blocking the Grand Canyon behind her.

Like all rules, it is there to be broken, in other words, we forget. No problem, use the crop tool.


Techniques for Taking Photos

Placing the Subject Off-Centre (Rule of Thirds)

Take a look at the two photos below. It’s natural that as photographers we want to place the subject in the centre of the photo, this is particularly true with pictures of people or animals. However, placing the subject off-centre often makes the composition more dynamic and interesting.


Follow the rule of thirds. An easy way to compose off-centre pictures is to imagine a noughts and crosses board over your viewfinder. Avoid placing your subject in that centre square, and you have followed the rule of thirds. Try to place your subject along one of the imaginary lines that divides your frame. Even if your subject fills the frame, the most important part of the subject (for example, the eyes in a portrait) should not be dead centre.

Watch the horizon. Just as an off-centre subject is usually best, so is an off-centre and straight horizon line.

Avoid cutting your picture in half by not placing the horizon in the middle of the picture.


To accent spaciousness, keep the horizon low in the picture. To suggest closeness, position the horizon high in your pictures.

Chris Fitzjohn

So there you have it. Easy. Make the sky one third or two thirds of your picture.

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