The Rule of Thirds | Understanding Photography

Photography has been a hobby for some years and I’ll be the first to admit that I know nothing of this snappy profession. What I do know is that I love to take pictures, of anything, and everything.

A few days ago I went shutter happy on some beautiful cows and calf’s in the hilly mountains of Sardinia, Italy. I then asked for some advice.

Michele over at Our Italian Table offered me the best advice a beginner could ask for!

The Rule of Thirds – A Beginners Guide

  • When you look through the viewfinder, or the LCD display on the back of your digital camera; imagine a perfect tic-tac-toe board displayed. (Most digital cameras have a grid setting which will display the grid automatically for you … hey, I found mine, you can to.)
  • The first horizontal line, at the top is the Eye Line. This is where you put your subject’s eye, line.
  • The second horizontal line, at the bottom is the Horizon Line. This is where you want to level your horizon.
  • You can play with the horizon on both horizontal lines, it all depends on what type of photography you wish for the final picture.
  • A high horizon line creates depth in the photo.
  • A low horizon line helps eliminate boring foregrounds.

Rule of thumb

The experts agree, if you want a dynamite photograph that pops out from the page, or a photo that expresses justly a moment in time – then do not center your subject in the middle of your grid.

By centering the subject in the middle of the grid, you are creating a static photo. A static photo has no depth, movement or flow. A static photo is boring, and who wants boring? I don’t.

Remember …

Rules are meant to be broken, not thumbs.

This morning I took my new-found knowledge to the hills of Sardinia and tested out this golden rule of photography.

Horizon Line Photo – Bottom Line of Grid

This photo is not cropped. The colours I played with.

Eye Line Photo – Top Line of Grid

I slightly cropped the bottom of this photo. My shadow was perfectly visible and I didn’t like it. Does that crop take away from this photo?

My second piece of advice came from Edith Levy Photography. She told me to get lower to the ground, at eye level when photographing animals.

Most of the animals I have photographed have been inside acres of gated countryside. I don’t feel comfortable hopping their fence to snap a few pictures. Seriously, with my luck, I would get charged, head-on! And not by the police!

Eye Level Photography – Get Lower to the Ground

The above photo is slighty cropped all round. This beautiful heifer was inside a large metal gated field, and was only about 100ft from me. I had to step in prickly bushes up to my ears, crouch down real low to try to get the right effect. The morning sun was still young, giving off a hazy effect in the picture.

My next assignment?

I befriend a farmer, and get real down and dirty in the name of art!

Here are a few more photos from this morning. These all have been cropped in hopes to meet the guidelines of The Rule of Thirds.

So? How did I do?

I’d love to hear your opinions of these photos. Did I hit the nail on the head with The Rule of Thirds? Or did I fail miserably?

17 thoughts on “The Rule of Thirds | Understanding Photography

  1. Very good photos. Well done! It gives me an extra incentive to try the tips, which I’ ve heard before but always forget!

  2. My only rule when taking photographs is… if it looks good… it’s all good!!!!!! But your horizon photos are lovely!!!!! That is the same colour blue we have here.

  3. some great images and cropping Jennifer…i like slightly odd lines in photos…but you have probably guessed that on my photos…maybe i shouldn’t say it but sky can be boring

  4. Well done, Jennifer. Rules of thirds spot on.

    One time to break the rule is when you want to emphasize symmetry – a perfectly proportioned building, an avenue of trees, a fountain in the middle of a formal garden – these sometimes work well placed dead centre of the shot.

    Note to self. Must learn to play with colours. Photoshop Lightroom arrived yesterday and I’m looking forward to unpacking the box.

  5. Great job! I need to learn more of photography and regret I don’t know more given all my travels. But someday I will find he time to learn more! Great post!

  6. I think your photos are great! I don’t know how to crop or edit my photos so I have to compose them well when I take them. Sometimes of course, there is no time to do this. I really need to learn to do a bit of editing.

  7. You are a quick learner. These are terrific. I absolutely love the first image. Just a bit of clarification on my first comment… Getting eye level is ideal when photographing animals but safety first.

    • Thank you! And really thanks for sharing that bit of advice, I was a fun morning trying something new. I have a friend in Saskatchewan and she said the same thing about Sardinian cows. 🙂

Your comments are greatly appreciated, thank you.

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