Rule Of Thirds


One of the themes for the topic ‘The Rules’ was the Rule Of Thirds. For this, I had to capture two pictures that followed the structure of the rule.

Rule Of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a composition style that follows a grid display of 9 sections as shown in the diagramthe-rule-of-thirds-1-1 (Rowse, No Date). The theory is that an image will be more interesting to the views eye when following this competition. This is when a subject in the frame intersects with any of the crossing points of the lines or on any of the horizontal or vertical lines. For example, according to this theory, a well-composed seascape image would have the horizon line on either the upper or lower horizontal; line, instead of placing it in the centre of the frame. Similarly, with other objects in the image, such as a tree, it would be advised to place the tree on one of the vertical lines in order to make the picture pleasing to the viewer’s eye.


Figure 1

Figure one presents my first image for the rule of thirds. I have positioned the model in a way that she fills up a part of every grid. This ensures there is no empty space that is uninteresting. Negative space can be effective in photography but using the rule of thirds to fill up each grid, in my opinion, makes the model the dominreceived_710595852450589ant focus point.

As shown in the diagram the camera intersects with the upper right horizontal and vertical cross section and the model’s face is in line with the upper horizontal line. I feel that making the camera intersect with the cross section brings it to the audience’s attention and works well in this composition. 

Location and Lighting

This image was taken in the university photography studio. One modelling light was used on the right of the model. I used low key flash in order to create harsh shadows and bold contrasts between the shadows and highlights. I think that the black backdrop adds to the bold colours that have worked well with the model’s bright hair. The modelling light was directed at the back of her head to illuminate her hair from the background and create a rim light on her shoulders.

In my opinion, this has worked effectively as the dark colours of her clothing suits the low-key lighting conditions but does not blend into the background. This is the same with the black camera and makes the picture appear more dramatic with elegance.

I enjoyed using flash rather than low key constant light as this allowed me to hand hold my camera which gave me more freedom to capture the image at different angles. It also ensured the picture was sharp, making the process easier and faster compared to tungsten light.

Camera Setting

I used the Canon 7D with the Canon 16-35mm L f2.8 wide angle lens. The wide angle lens gave me a wider spectrum to use but had the risk of distorting the image. I have not yet seen any image distortion when using this lens for portraiture but have to be careful in case this does occur.

The flash enables me to use 100 ISO which is the minimum amount the camera has available, reducing noise in the image. I wanted the picture to be clear and sharp, therefore the lowest ISO was one of the best options.

The low light meant that I could not have a fast shutter speed, otherwise not enough light would enter the lens, resulting in an underexposed image. However, the flash still enabled ,me to use 1/60 second shutter speed which is enough to freeze slight motion.

I used the focal length of 31mm and an aperture of f8. I find that this aperture good middle ground that still creates a shallow depth of field, blurring the background but keeps the model sharp. I think this aperture work sufficiently and a wider aperture would have not had all the model in focus.


Previously I had been focusing on the lighting effects and camera settings, therefore had simple positions and poses from the models. However for this picture I wanted to create more of a story to the model. This model in one of my class members, therefore I wanted to capture something about her. This lead to the use of the camera as a prop to signify her passion for this craft.

I did not want to capture her simply holding the camera as this does not show her enthusiasm for photography. Instead, I told her to take pictures, allowing me to capture her in action. I think this has worked effectively and am satisfied with the outcome.


To conclude, this image uses the rule of thirds to better compose the model in the picture.  It is evident that she intersects with lines and makes use of every grid. I found the experience beneficial to develop my skills further with some theories in photography and using the studio. I am happy that I chose to use flash as I think this produced a sharper image with  interesting reflections on the camera and lights up the model so that she does not blend with the background. I think this has made for a more effective outcome and has taken me away from the habit of centring the subject in the middle of the frame.


Figure 2 

For the second image, I wanted to capture a completely different scene from the first picture. I wanted to get an outdoor location but the constant rain made it difficult to use the equipment outside. I finally was able to go to Chester, although it was a dull overcast day with rain which I did not want for my image. I went to the river where I captured the picture in figure 2.

Camera Setting

I used my Canon 7D and my wide angle lens because when taking images of outdoor scenery I prefer the wide angle spectrum unless I am aiming for a different effect that would benefit more from my telephoto lenses. Due to the clouds that create a low light condition I had to set the ISO higher than I would like to. I found that 400 gave me enough exposure and enabled me to use a faster shutter and smaller aperture. Due to hand holding the camera I wanted a shutter speed over 60, making 1/125 a suitable speed. I then set the aperture to f6 which allowed me to set the faster shutter but not create too much of a shallow depth of field. In reflection, I should have had a smaller aperture so that more of the image was in focus.

An idea that would have improved the image would have been to create an HDR effect. This is done by using the bracketing mode on the camera to capture three images, underexposed, correctly exposed and overexposed. I would then have been able to merge the images together in photoshop to produce a bolder and sharper image.

Location and Lighting

I  used natural light, which was cloudy and dark. I regret not taking my tripod as this would have improved the overall image. I had to compensate for the low lighting conditions with the settings in my camera which affected the picture quality. I am not satisfied with the overall outcome of the image, including the lighting as it appears dull and uninteresting.

The location was busy, resulting in the presence of people in the background. In reflection, I could have used the public to my advantage and used a slow shutter speed to capture motion blur. This would have created a ‘ghosting’ effect, producing a completely different atmosphere. I would have had to bring a tripod to ensure the rest of the background was sharp in order to create the best outcome for the motion blur effect.


I aligned the tree to intersect with the left vertical line from the rule of thirds grid. I think that following the rule has improved the competition and placing subjects of interest on interest line does produce a more dynamic image that would be less effective if it was placed in the centre of the frame.

The top of the chair reached the lower horizontal line, as well as the water line of the river on the right. I think that by placing the foreground objects on one side of the frame it leads the viewer’s eye from left to right, leading into the image.


Overall I am not happy with the final image outcome and feel that I rushed the process which has in turn affected the final result. I still tried to meet the criteria of the rule of thirds but believe it could have been better. Using different techniques, such as HDR or motion blur could have produced a more desirable picture.  The overall picture could have been improved by changing the location or framing as it is not something that looks interesting or eye catching.


 Rowse, D. (No Date) Rule Of Thirds. (Online). Digital Photography School. Available at:  [Digitally Accessed 5 Dec, 2016)


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