Now we have all those lines straight lets use them to make some ace compositions!...
We ♥ thirds! This section is where having your grid turned on will really pay off! "The rule of thirds" has been around for ages, and it's stuck around for good reason - it makes images awesome! It's been used in art and design to make eyes happy for years. For some magical reason, our eyes just really love things being divided into thirds, we will show how this works in the slideshow below...
Each of the lines in the grid represent a third of the frame vertically and horizontally. These lines are great for placing lines within the photo along. The circles where the third lines intersect are the points where the human eye feels the most comfy, so these are the zones that are awesome to place your subject within the frame. Using thirds makes the image really dynamic and directs your eye around the frame.
The photo above is thirds central! Kate saw this cool old building, then noticed the cute nonna walking into the scene from the right. She composed the scene, then waited till the nonna hit that third line - bam! It works especially well because she is framed by that blank part of the wall behind her. Not only is the cute nonna hitting a third zone, but the line of the second floor is going across the third line on the grid, and the tree is cutting through one of the points where the lines intersect - see what we mean about thirds central?? Using thirds is an amazing way of directing the eye to the most important part of the photo when there is heaps going on within the frame. Rather than wandering around looking for the point of focus, using thirds takes your hand and leads you to it.
Third lines are our fave place to put the horizon line in our photos. The bottom third line is just so grounding and makes the scene a nice place to be in. In the photo above, the leading line of the path brings your eye right up to that comfy zone where the third lines intersect, and the hill cuts straight through it. You don't have to be pedantic about everything touching those points exactly, you can just aim for around about the points and your photos will look ace! Using thirds becomes second nature after a while, we didn't realise how third obsessed we were until we started laying these grids over our photos for the Photo School slideshow examples!
Got sunsets? Desert skies? Any time we want to emphasise how big and amazing the sky is, we chop that bottom third in half and use a half of a third (or a sixth for you maths people!) We used the half of third method heaps when we traveled to Uluru last year. All those big desert skies were begging us to!
This is another textbook thirds example! Horizon line on a third? Check! Point of focus on a thirds zone? Check! Uluru leads the eye straight down to that bottom right third zone, then the little tree on the right and the log leading in from the bottom keep your eye from ever leaving!
Sometimes the third zone is more about a point of focus, rather than placing the subject on the point exactly. In the above photo, the dad and baby are looking in towards that top right third zone, directing the viewers eye to that point. The cute little family take up two thirds of the photo and the one third of negative space on the left gives them some lovely breathing room... ahhh.
Here is another one of those ones where the comfy zone is more a point of focus than exactly where the subject is sitting. Kate's cute girls looking lovingly at each other draws the eye right up to that top left point. (behind the scenes secret - they had been bickering just a second before, they are pretty convincing little actors!).
On a non thirds related note - although there is a lot going on in this photo, nothing is too cluttered or messy. Even though there are usually a lot of junky kid-related bits and pieces lying around in Kate's yard, a bit of creative cropping and kicking toys out of the way lets you focus on those cute loving sisters, instead of the old plant pot or discarded jacket. Especially with kids around, this is such an important part of creating nice photos. It doesn't mean you have to be obsessed with keeping a clean house or yard for the sake of photos, just shove things out of the way when you notice them creeping into the frame.
Let's recap thirds - When composing with thirds our rule of thumb is to place horizon lines on thirds lines (or half of thirds) and to pop the subject of the photo or the point of focus around one of the comfy zones where the thirds lines intersect. Easy peasy!
Got all that? Go shoot an image using thirds!
Where using thirds makes for a really dynamic image, using a centred composition makes for a static image. This can be cool too! There can be a certain calmness to a centred image that we love. But there are a few guidelines we use to pull it off...
The main situation a centred composition works well in is when you have one single isolated subject, and lots of symmetry in the image to keep your eye from wandering around. Remember the lone tree example from the straight horizon lines lesson? That is one of those single isolated subjects that having a centred composition worked beautifully with!
If there had been another horse or even some sheep scattered around in the foreground of the above photo, the eye wouldn't have known what to focus on and would have skipped around between all the possible subjects. Instead, having just the one single point of focus means you can use a nice symmetrical composition and there is no question about what to look at. Even when you are using a centred composition vertically in the frame, you can still use thirds horizontally. The hills in the photo above take up one third of the frame and the sky takes up two thirds.
This cute little bed head is as centred as it gets! Even though this image is a little more cluttered than the one above, there is still a sense of symmetry, the fireplace frames her, and those crazy tinsel horns add to the sense of symmetry as well.
Above is another more chaotic example of using a centred composition. That funny mermaid is dead centre of the frame, and even though the room is an explosion of kid stuff and life stuff, the symmetry in the window framing her head and the leading lines in the couch draw your eye right to her and make a sense of balance and order amongst the chaos.
Ahhhh, how peaceful is this little centred scene? So much balance and symmetry, and that lovely light pouring in and then falling out of the frame. Kate could have walked into the hallway more and cut out that door on the left, but then there wouldn't have been that lovely light falloff creating that beautiful golden to dark gradient on that crazy 50's carpet.