Using the rule of thirds, I focused on the rightmost pumpkin and the smiling hay bale behind it. Shot at F/6.3 at 1/100th of a second.
One of the first things that one will learn in order to take better photos is the rule of thirds. The basic principle of the rule is to imagine the viewfinder or screen on the back of your camera broken up into thirds both horizontally and vertically creating 9 equal squares. The rule which isn’t exactly a rule, but more a guideline to improve the composition in your photographs is that you should place the subject of your photo at one of the 4 intersecting points of the grid. If you are shooting something like a landscape, place the horizon line at either of the horizontal lines. If your subject is something vertical, like say a person, than try aligning them with one of the vertical lines. More often than not, you’ll find that playing with placing your subject along the intersection points and/or along the lines instead of right in them middle will provide for more interesting photographs.
Following the rule of thirds often creates a sense of balance, without making the image too static or boring. It can also create a sense of complexity, but without making the image too busy.
Here I placed the post in the foreground on the left third which balances the red boat on the right third, even though the horizon
is in the middle the photo still works. Shot at F/7.1 at 1/250th of a second
I’ve found that the more you shoot and practice the rule of thirds, that over time its use becomes second nature, and I tend to frame my photos unconsciously looking for interesting compositions that utilize the rule, but not always.
Now like most rules, there is always a time and a place to break the rule of thirds, but its always good advice to understand the rule first, and if you’re going to go around and break the rules, you should have a good reason for doing so. For example it may work for certain photos to center your subject if your goal is to show how symmetrical it is.
The redwood is placed in the middle because of its symmetry, is balanced by the sign in the lower third. Shot at F/6.3 at 1/40th of a second.