Basic Composition for Newbie Artists and Photographers – 1
The Rule of Thirds
Have you seen the grid on the right? It’s there as an option on your Digital Camera screen, and it’s thrust upon you in most classes on Composition by Those Who Follow the Rules.
It’s called the Rule of Thirds. The concept is simple. An amateur places his point of interest right in the middle of the picture. In landscapes, he cuts the picture in two by making the horizon the centre-line. The pro doesn’t. She, on the other hand, (being a feminist here,) places the point of interest in one of the four points of intersection and the horizon at one of the horizontal lines.
- Your pictures look professional though most people know this rule anyway.
- You have more tension and drama in your composition. (Which is a good thing.)
- You can choose more sky or more ground depending on what you want to say.
- If you adhere strongly to this rule, you could look like a desperate wannabe pro.
- You won’t explore other ideas and will stick to this one rule.
- All subjects are not co-operative or flexible enough to fit. Artists use artistic license but photographers are handicapped. They can’t move a mountain or push a palm tree aside!
- Slightly go off the points and lines. That’s what great artists did.
- Know the rule and break it occasionally.
- Shoot the picture first; you can crop it to fit later.
Break the Rule
You can design a symmetrical picture where both vertical halves are almost mirror images. This obviously cannot follow the Rule of Thirds. Many portraits don't adhere to the rule. The Mona Lisa absolutely flouts it, so tell your critics that if it worked for Old Leonardo, it can work for you.
Books on Composition
More by this Author
Artemisia was a feminist. When they thought a woman couldn't do serious subjects, she did. And probably that's why, instead of doing pretty women or flowers or scenery, she tackled gruesome themes. I don't know. She...
Dali's paintings make a great intro to surrealism and modern art. Look at this one. If not for the cubes, Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus) would look, at first glance, like an old master's piece. Surrealism is the...
Twenty years ago, a struggling actress attended a photoshoot with other models in a London Studio. The shoot was for reference pictures for The Illustrator's Figure Reference Manual, a collection to be used by artists...