Golden Rules Law of Thirds

A basic guideline of composition, and one that is used to create a visually balanced picture, is known as the law of thirds. I place significant importance on this technique. It proposes dividing up the viewfinder into an imaginary grid, using two horizontal and two vertical lines and the focal point is then placed on or near any one of the four intersection points created by the lines. It gives a feeling of tension, energy, balance and harmony, preventing the focal point from occupying the middle of the frame. The majority of SLRs and compacts have the option to preset a 'thirds grid' in the viewfinder via the custom menu.

Artists frequently use this guideline. The next time you visit a gallery, notice the style of compositions. I guarantee that you will find numerous paintings and photographs with their focal points situated on or around these intersection points.

fig. 7.6 Law of thirds guideline.

Law Thirds Photography

fig. 7.7 Amanda Conway composed this Clown fish off-centre using the 'C' continuous focus with the focus point within the viewfinder positioned on the left-hand side of the viewfinder.

Subal housing, Nikon D2x, Nikon 105 mm lens, f16 at 1/250th sec, ISO 200, two Inon flashguns positioned each side of her macro port. Tulamben, Bali. 282

fig. 7.7 Amanda Conway composed this Clown fish off-centre using the 'C' continuous focus with the focus point within the viewfinder positioned on the left-hand side of the viewfinder.

Subal housing, Nikon D2x, Nikon 105 mm lens, f16 at 1/250th sec, ISO 200, two Inon flashguns positioned each side of her macro port. Tulamben, Bali. 282

fig. 7.8 Leena Roy composed this coral grouper with her Canon Ixus in a landscape/horizontal format, which complements its orientation on the reef.
Photo Law Thirds

fig. 7.9 Leena's result — a balanced composition which sits well in the frame. When using a compact it's a challenge to focus anywhere other than the middle of the frame and with the frustrating 'shutter lag', shooting moving subjects of any kind is rewarding. Canon Ixus, f8 at 1/125th sec, ISO 200 with Epoque flashgun.

fig. 7.9 Leena's result — a balanced composition which sits well in the frame. When using a compact it's a challenge to focus anywhere other than the middle of the frame and with the frustrating 'shutter lag', shooting moving subjects of any kind is rewarding. Canon Ixus, f8 at 1/125th sec, ISO 200 with Epoque flashgun.

Law Thirds Photography

fig. 7.10 I shot this individual at the same time as Leena and I went for a vertical orientation. Like Amanda Conways's Clown fish in Fig. 7.7, with the speed and accuracy of auto focus I too use the Continuous setting and, with moving subjects, I often place my focus point off-centre to one of the thirds. Nikon D300, f22 at 1/320th sec, ISO 200, two Inon flashguns each side of my macro port. I had a 60 mm macro lens on at the time and got lucky to get so close. Loloata, PNG.

fig. 7.10 I shot this individual at the same time as Leena and I went for a vertical orientation. Like Amanda Conways's Clown fish in Fig. 7.7, with the speed and accuracy of auto focus I too use the Continuous setting and, with moving subjects, I often place my focus point off-centre to one of the thirds. Nikon D300, f22 at 1/320th sec, ISO 200, two Inon flashguns each side of my macro port. I had a 60 mm macro lens on at the time and got lucky to get so close. Loloata, PNG.

fig. 7.11 This juvenile lionfish was tiny, I quickly moved my focus point back to the middle of my viewfinder, aimed at the bull's-eye and pop! I got one, which was in focus. Nikon D300, f22 at 1/90th sec, ISO 200, Using a prototype digital ring-flash courtesy of photographer Ken Sullivan. Scuba Sereya, Tulamben, Bali.

fig. 7.11 This juvenile lionfish was tiny, I quickly moved my focus point back to the middle of my viewfinder, aimed at the bull's-eye and pop! I got one, which was in focus. Nikon D300, f22 at 1/90th sec, ISO 200, Using a prototype digital ring-flash courtesy of photographer Ken Sullivan. Scuba Sereya, Tulamben, Bali.

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