FP101-5: Rule of Thirds

January 15, 2008 in Food Photo 101

Before I get into the core of this lesson, I wanted to let you all know about a change to this course.

To allow people more time to do these lessons, the timing has been changed (some of us do not have any light when we get home from work during the week!).

I will publish a lesson on the Tuesday and then Curt will publish his results (which I mirror here) two weeks later, on a day of his choosing. We will then send out the newsletter for that lesson that next Sunday. The next lesson will then be on that next Tuesday.

Thus, I am publishing this lesson on Tuesday January 15th. Curt will publish his results and you all will send me your links and/or you will upload your images sometime in the week of January 28th – February 1st. We will send out that lesson’s newsletter on February 3rd.

On to today’s class

I mentioned on the previous composition post, in swift passing, something called the thirds rule. I am going to talk in greater length about this handy concept today and then I want you to chose several shots of your own to analyze.

What is the Rule of Thirds

The term “rule” is not meant to hem you into thinking that this is a hard and fast rule. This is more of a suggestion but an important one to help you develop your aesthetic “palate”.

Without getting excessively technical, a composition that has it’s focal points near the intersections of a tic-tac-toe box (shown below) will be perceived as more aesthetically pleasing.

A Few Examples

As with almost anything having to do with composition, its easier to show than it is to tell. I will simply show you some images that I shot this last weekend that have been marked up to show the grid.

Winter’s tulips

The grid overlay

Focal points show with blue circles

Further illustration of composition in terms of movement, notice all sorts of circular movement.

Here is another example of a photo that conforms to some extent with the rule of thirds

Cayenne Rosemary Cornish Game Hens – before roasting (I know, thats not rosemary)

The grid overlay

Grid with focal points outlined with circles


Your Homework

Find an image (or take a new one) that demonstrates the rule of thirds. If you know how to, add the lines like I did in the examples above to show how your photo conforms to the rule.

Now find a photo that doesn’t seem to be very pleasing in terms of composition and then do the same, add the lines. See how this photo may not be maximizing the rule.

Go a step further and see if you can modify that image by cropping to bring the various focal points closer in alignment with the grid intersections and see if that has a positive effect.

When you have done these things (or selected two images, one that uses the rule and one that doesn’t), upload it onto flickr, add the tag “fp101 rule of thirds” and then add those photos to the Flickr Food Photo 101 photo pool!

If you blog, please blog with your words and photos to describe how this exercise went for you. When you have done this, please send the link to me by filing out the contact form below, making sure to put “FP101-5 blog link” in the subject line.

Thats it! I am looking forward to seeing what you all submit.

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