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Thread: Mythbusting the Rule of Thirds

  1. #1
    Lightbender Grant S's Avatar
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    Mythbusting the Rule of Thirds

    An excellent and well thought out article that explains a number of myths that have been built up around the Rule of Thirds: http://petapixel.com/2016/01/30/10-m...ule-of-thirds/

    It also has some brilliant explanatory examples of other compositional concepts as part of the mythbusting along the way. I found it very informative on a number of levels and has made me think a little more about composition and how "rules" tend to shape our thinking around this subject.

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    Ausphotography Regular Claire M's Avatar
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    Hi Grant
    Thanks for sharing this link - very useful and certainly gives a lot of thought as to what actually makes a good composition, without paying much attention to 'Rules of Thirds'. I also like the how Travis, the author, shows examples of the various methods, if you like, using well known paintings/artworks as well as photo examples.
    Interesting and yes, a well thought-out article.
    Cheers!
    Last edited by Claire M; 19-02-2016 at 8:25pm.

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    Antipod
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    Yes, there are many other "rules" out there that make a good composition. The best and only rule you always should follow however is: "do whatever YOU think looks best". You can draw lines and eclipses any way you like, but your composition won't necessarily be better because of it.

    And that is where the article goes awry. The "rules" all are rules of thumb, they are not laws. For every example one can show where (any) rule works, one can find hundreds of others where it actually does not work. Or where it works not to follow that particular rule.

    For example, he shows a sailingboat that is nicely put at thirds. Than he cuts of half of it, saying it is "unwanted negative space". I don't agree at all there, the negative space provides enough room for the sailing boat to give it direction, to set it in its environment. By cutting the image square like he proposes, the image becomes a completely different image with a completely different angle of view. Close your eyes half-way and look at it again - you just might see something completely different like a face or something else. Those clouds in the top distract from the boat much more in the square picture than they did in the landscape one. A very bad example IMHO.

    In the end, the article is a big open door anyway, beated to death almost as much as the rule of third itself.
    Ciao, Joost

    All feedback is highly appreciated!

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Got about 1/2 way through the "article". - A trek for sure!
    Impression after I got that far: egregiously syllogistic exercise, with futility its main purpose.

    I do not disagree with the "alternatives" that he's illustrating - other well-known methods of presenting a subject - but just
    his pseudo-confrontational-I-will-set-you-free "style". It's head-sapping! The opening paragraphs themselves straightaway
    depart from credulity. Paras 2 and 4 are amateurish. In the 3rd he does not really distinguish that the ideas are NOT his own.

    Well, that's my take.
    Last edited by ameerat42; 20-02-2016 at 9:01am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Ausphotography Regular John King's Avatar
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    ^ I agree, Am.

    I have a book by Harald Mante, "The Photograph: Composition and Color Design"
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Photograph.../dp/1937538060 that covers the technical detail far better.

    Michael Freeman's "The Photographer's Eye" covers composition at a far more practical level.

    Neither book is expensive. Both are very much worth owning IMO.
    Regards, john

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Jev basically explained what I was going to post(hence this post will be uncharacteristically brief! )


    Quote Originally Posted by jev View Post
    .....

    In the end, the article is a big open door anyway, beated to death almost as much as the rule of third itself.
    best summation!

    The only countenance to Jev's comments tho is that of the example of the boat image.
    I'd have cropped 1:1 as in the example, but not because of the negative space issue the writer explained.
    The cropped version has the hidden pattern within it's rendering in that I see a 'face' or 'smiley face' in the relationship between clouds and the yacht.
    That's what I noticed immediately even with the distractions he's created.
    So the clouds don't detract for me, in fact make the image( or the interest that I see in it).

    So it repeats the most important rule when making images(or in fact any art really!) .. shoot what you think looks good and never worry about rules .. that goes for exposure, or content(obviously keeping it within legal and moral bounds!!) .. or whatever.
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Thread moved to F-stop, as it is a general discussion related to photography.

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    Perpetually Bewildered fillum's Avatar
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    Always good to see an article that generates photographic discussion...

    What confused me about this article was that most of the examples he gave decrying the use of rule-of-thirds actually had subjects aligned on (or near) thirds ?

    The examples he gave for central subject location (the cropped yacht and the guy in the water) both use square frames which are more suitable for central placement. (And both these images had elements aligned along thirds anyway...)

    The Liebovitz "Pros use it" example - well I don't think I could find a more irrelevant example. (This might be better ?)


    I reckon maybe he had originally written a good piece on alternate composition techniques, but PetaPixel got him to turn it into a rule-of-thirds bash to increase the hit rate / comments etc ?




    Cheers.
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    Some Nikon stuff. I shoot Mirrorless and Mirrorlessless.


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    Member peterv's Avatar
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    I saw this article posted elsewhere and commented that I was " Pretty sure that Nick Ut, Kevin Carter,Eddie Adams or Roco Morabito weren't concerned with the rule of thirds when they captured their Pulitzer winning images"


    CC always welcome.

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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    The "rule of thirds" is not really a rule, but simply a suggestion to help you make a valued decision on how a photo may look best. In otherwords, it's just a guide. There are many instances where the rule of thirds may not apply for the best outcome. Possibly a better "rule" is the "Golden Section" or "Golden Ratio":

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio

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    Ausphotography Regular landyvlad's Avatar
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    That's just ridiculously complex! If you tried to think about all that before composing an image you'd be there all day and lose the light... (or moment).
    The human eye and instinct work together to get a lot about composition right, subconsciously.


    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    shoot what you think looks good and never worry about rules ..
    Exactly !
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    New Member cate255's Avatar
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    Agree!

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Why "worry" about "rules"?
    (Ie, why set them up as rules and then fret over them? Nothing like a bit of "straw-mannery")

    Consider them as guides betimes. And Landy, yes. But later, in PP, the thought might in its good
    time occur to one.

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    Member kevin301's Avatar
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    Who's the one who started calling it the RULE of Thirds?

    Just a scroll through photo sites reveals a multitude of great photos that break this 'rule'.
    That article is seriously convoluted. The arguments are generally pretty weak. Should simply be titled "alternative styles of composition".

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