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Photography For Beginners: Composition and The Rule of Thirds

If you’re new here, this is a reminder that we’re working through Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs (< NOT sponsored) with our DSLRs.

I’m happy you’re here to join the fun! Today we’re going to explore composition. If you’re wondering why we aren’t going right to the DSLR controls, it’s because I think composition is key and there’s time enough for controls.

Composition Basics

Composition is a beautiful thang. Not only in music, or baking, or gardening, but also in photography. As we progress through this post, the one rule I’d like you to keep in mind is this: When you master the rules of composition (or any subject), then can you break them with success.

Rule of Thirds

When I first learned about the rule of thirds, I applied it with an eye towards satisfaction in composition, or more easily: Did it please my eye. After all, you are the person composing, you are the stylist, you are the visionist, so you should be the one pleased, followed by the audience you have in mind.

Here are a few of my rule-of -third photos that I love:

5 Things to Do For a Healthy Lawn

Dexter rolling in lush yard, with his beloved penguin nearby. I wanted the viewer to feel, to remember, what it was to enjoy the coolness of grass underneath them, to the point of abandoning whatever they were doing (Dex, playing with his toy). As I shot Dex rolling around, I eventually put down my camera and joined him.

Rule of Thirds

Uber-close yawning Dexter. (What can I say, he’s a favorite subject.) In this shot, I wanted the viewer to imagine their much-loved pet in Dexter’s place. The funniness, the hot-breathiness, the lack of co-operation in getting a sweet-faced shot of them.

Rule of Thirds

The garden is also my muse. I love the crispness of the tomato against the softness of the background. I love the anticipation that spring green heralds. I love the water hanging on new fruit, after a morning shower, signaling new life nourished and filled.

Most of these shots were perfected in a photo-editor. When they were shot, they might not have been shot with the rule of thirds in mind, but as I edited them, I adjusted for the emotion I wanted to convey.

Not all of my photos follow the rule of thirds, but if I’m having a hard time making a shot sing, I try editing with an eye on the rule to see if it helps.

It’s your turn. I’ll link this post in a facebook thread (you can find the link to my facebook at the top right-hand side of this page) and you can show us your shots.

Come play with us!


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Thursday 22nd of December 2016

People often overlook the importance and power of good composition on a photo, but by just using this simple technique anyone can significantly improve their photography skills. I'm sharing this post on my twitter, maybe it will make people think a bit next time they take pictures. :)

Patti Tucker

Friday 23rd of December 2016

It IS a simple technique and easy to understand. Thanks for popping in and sharing, Nick!

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