The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds

Rules, rules rules.  Love ’em or hate ’em they are everywhere, and photography and videography are no exception.  Setting up a shot for photography or video doesn’t have to be difficult if you have a little training in basic rules of setting up a shot.  One of the fundamental rules of photography and videography is the rule of thirds.  Basically, the rule of thirds allows you to compose and balance a scene visually by dividing it into nine even parts and four points, called strong points, located at the corners of the center square.  When composing the scene you should use no more than two thirds of the space to show the action and one third used for leading space, which helps establish the direction the action is going

Sometimes composing a scene using the rule of thirds is very challenging because you have to deal with bogeys (things like microphones and other equipment used for production).  But the main challenge is keeping up with the action because you always have to be composing the scene.  In other words, when the action moves you have to adjust and move with it in order to adhere to the rules of scene composition.

Using the rule of thirds and leading space allows the eye to move from one point in the composition to a new point, much like the three-point triangle that is often found in classical Renaissance paintings.  The artist intentionally draws the viewer’s eyes to a particular point in the scene, which brings us to the topic of strong points.  Strong points are used as guides for composing the shot.  best if the eyes are at the strong points which helps you compose the shot and balance the frame.

Strong points

We already learned that the page is divided into nine sections, giving us four center points and that your subject should be placed in one of the three sections or on the vertical lines.  You should also place your subjects on the center lines with their eyes on or near the strong points, or the opposite point diagonally across from the point your subject is on.  The purpose of setting up the scene this way is to give the viewer’s eyes a path to move along.  This helps give the illusion of movement and helps draw the viewer’s eye to a second subject or point of interest.  Think of it like a tennis match with the heads of the spectators moving from left to right.

Breaking the rule of thirds

Rules are made to be broken and the rule of thirds is no exception.  Once you have mastered using the rule of thirds you can learn to compose your subject in the center of the scene and use the space on either side more effectively to draw the attention of the viewer to the focal point of the scene.