SFA 1203 Lecture 1: Composition #1 Rule of Thirds – The basis for balanced shots




In Art, quality is never an accident. Before you create your artwork, you should have a good understanding of the basic concepts or fundamentals of art.

Good composition in art shall be a challenge to many beginning instant photographer. Composition it is not only valid in painting and drawing, but also in photography. The Rule of Thirds, sometimes known as Golden ratio, is perhaps the most well known compositional technique for making dynamic and interesting images.


HOW DOES IT WORK?instant-university_yellow-border

Imagine to break the image down into thirds – both vertically and horizontally, there it is the Rule of Thirds. You can place your point of interest in the intersections or along the imaginary lines of the image. Under this circumstance, the subject should not always be placed in the center of the shot.




People’s eyes tends to go to one of the intersection point rather than the middle of image. With the Rule of Thirds, off-centered subjects look more balanced and provides a more natural way of viewing, and a sense of direction too.


The above example conveys a sense of direction. The girl riding a bike is placed along the left vertical line and thus there is much more space on the right of the frame. This kind of arrangement makes for a more pleasant composition that the subject has some buffer spaces.


COUNTER ARGUMENTinstant-university_yellow-border

As long as you can handle the Rule of Thirds, it’s time to break the rule. You do not have to use the rule all the time, instead you can start to randomly yet consciously compose the image yourself. As there are many other circumstances that it might be better to ignore the rule than to follow it.


For instance, when you want to imply the symmetry of the subject, placing it at the center of canvas should be the best solution. Or when you shoot a landscape with leaving a huge area of sky and just a range of hills at the bottom, in turns such kind of composition can feature the landscape.



THE SUM-UPinstant-university_yellow-border

Yup. It is very essential to know what do you want to emphasise or which mood and atmosphere you would like to create in your photography. If the Rule of Thirds could help to achieve your goal, use it then, otherwise, do not let it to get your way of composition.

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