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3) COMPOSITION - Give Your Picture Hidden Depth

Believe it or not, some photographers have written hundreds of thousands of long, tightly-packed words about the cornerstone of composition that is ‘the rule of thirds’.

Some have even attempted to explain it by invoking fundamental universal principles and mathematical formula.
Why bother? It works. Use it. At least to get started.

In short, when you look at a picture your eyes look, not all at once but at tiny focused points in quick succession. That’s why your eyes are always darting about and, scientists have proven, when you first look at a picture your eyes will tend toward the four points where the lines cross in the diagram cross.

That, above all other reasons given, is why the rule of thirds works—by placing your subject slap bang onto one of those  points you can be sure it’s one of the first  things that strikes anyone about the picture.

Below are some examples in still life, portraiture, and landscape photography which all make use of the rules to an extent.



Clearly rules are there to be broken, but if you turn on your grid and avoid those pictures with the subject in the dead center you’ll instantly start taking more pleasing pictures, and the best thing is that it works for pretty much all formats; square lomo, 16:9 or 4:3 video modes, or photographic 3:2.


Psychology of pictures:

As they look, you’re eyes darting around an image like a psycology – powered scanner, all the while the brain is building up an overall picture of the image in your mind.

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It happens in a fraction of a second, without you even realizing it, but by understanding what it does you’ll start to get an insight as to why some images are striking and most just don’t leap out.

Firstly, your eye is drawn to the brightest or most colorful part of the picture, then the eye starts to wander around to see what else there is to see. By keeping corners dark or free of important details, it keeps our eyes from wandering off the edges.

If you read English you usually start at the top left, and work our way to the bottom right. At the very least, we read an image from left to right. This makes the left of the picture the past and the right is the future, so, if your subject is looking or facing left it has a retrospective feel and right is more optimistic.
Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Finally our eyes look into the dark areas, though this only happens if you’re still curious enough to see what is in the shadows; you might have moved onto another picture before the eyes get chance.

Artists and painters discovered that the inclusion of an s-shape or even a backward “S” is aesthetically pleasing and helps keep the viewers attention for longer (the Venus de Milo is the proud owner of an S-shaped body according to art critics).

Everyone is unique and we each see the world though our own special lens so to speak, but have a look at the three images below and try to become conscious of where you eye starts, where it goes. can you see any S or reverse S shapes, are there more than one?

Mobile Photography Awards 2013 - Shot using LED lighting & Camer

  How to photograph Street Photography@ www.Lightism.co.uk

Enjoy Every View by SimonEllingworth.com


Top Tip:

When you shoot you need to keep the end usage. Are the pictures for a website, facebook or a personal album.
This will drive creative decisions such as if they are landscape, portrait or square in format, etc.

For square compositions, cover a portion of the devices screen with your finger to make your viewing area square.

The rule of thirds still applies and you need to consider it in your mind’s eye. Once you have the rule of thirds down, there are a couple of other tricks for you to master or at least consider.





Here are more recent & related articles from the blog:

Train your eye to take better pictures
Composition – The 10 second rule
If God was a photographer – Advanced Composition


[(o)]   For the next lesson…Step this way: