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Breaking the Rules

June 30, 2011

T h e   R u l e   O f   T h i r d s

   This is one rule you should have a good reason to break. Unfortunately it is the one most often broken. Following this one rule will improve your shots more than any other. It’s also one of the simplest..but not necessarily easiest because old habits die hard. If you are not familiar with the Rule of Thirds, before you continue go now to the link in “Learning resources” at the bottom of this blog. It will open in a new tab and only takes a few minutes to read. Best 5 minutes you can spend. Put it in your faves, call your friends and have them put it in their faves!

O K ……. Y o u r   B a c k

   The one thing not mentioned in the link you just read is that the center of the frame is like a black hole. The human eye and mind will give less weight to whatever is in the center of the frame. This is the dead zone. Where do most people place their main subject ? Well there ya go.

W h e n   t o   B r e a k   I t

   This rule has been around long before photography was invented and has withstood the test of time but there are times to break it.

Here are a couple.

S y m m e t r y

   When the scene can be shot in a very symmetrical way. This is usually considered the most valid reason and is the most common. Notice the intentional alignment of the gate and  Interurban rail car that used to run from Bellingham to Seattle. For this type of shot to work the symmetry is critical. The slight tilt of the rail car is enough to degrade this shot. Including a remark about which side of the train your wife is on is not a good idea, so I won’t.  Shot with Canon DSLR.

   Nature shots are more forgiving because perfect symmetry is rare in nature. Notice how the symmetry of the shot forces the eye back to the center  where it would not naturally go. This conflict can be tiring to the viewer, use with care. The shot is also lacking depth. Next I will try to add some depth to it by breaking the rule of thirds for a different reason..balanceShot with Olympus FE-100 point and shoot.

B a l a n c e

   The camera was lowered to include more background for depth and rotated around the flower to break the symmetry of petals. The stamen in the center of the flower is de-emphasized by placing it in the dead zone so that it does not dominate the shot. This encourages the eye to move out to the petals and the background. Now I get the depth I was lacking in the first shot. Now here’s a photo you could tape in your hair for that “island girl” look!  Shot with Olympus FE-100 point and shoot.

O l d   H a b i t s . . .

   Symmetry or Balance are two reasons to break the rule of thirds, but I usually break it out of bad habit. The dead zone shots become fewer and fewer but if a couple creep in there is always cropping and that’s coming up next in “ Treachery!”

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