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Monday, January 28, 2008

Are You Too Centered?

Stepping Into Their World, was so well received I found myself itching to write another post. I just had to find the time to take the photos. The weather here, this time of year, is not very conducive to outdoor photography. It rains about 80% of the time, and the other 20%...well, I find myself either at work....or sleeping. It really doesn't help that it is dark when I leave the house in the morning, and dark when we come home. I am trying to patiently wait for spring.

I had to postpone the lesson I had in mind, and go for something I could use existing photos for. I was pleased to find a nice set of photos I took a few weeks back when we had a brief break in the rain.

Today, I'd like to address subject placement. One of the most common things I notice when viewing other people's photos, is the fact that the subject of their photo is almost assuredly in the CENTER of the frame. I am not sure if it is a natural tendency or a learned habit, but normally people point the camera at the object of interest, center it, and snap the photo. It might be our desire to have balance in life, or just something we do without thinking, but I find that it is counter productive to interesting photography.

In fact, one should follow the "rule of thirds" to achieve a photo with balance and interest. "The Rule of Thirds" goes way back to painters in the Renaissance era. The aim is to create a nice background to the photo, and allow the photo to tell a story. This rule is used in all forms of artistry. Let me begin explaining this rule.

When actually taking a photo, or when looking at it in a photo editing software, imagine four lines cutting the photo into 9 equal rectangles. Simply divide the photo in thirds vertically, and horizontally. This will leave you with the 9 rectangles, and 4 intersections.

It is the FOUR intersections I'd like to draw to your attention today. If you want your photo to have interest, and draw people naturally into the entire photo, it is best to place the subject of interest in one of those four intersections. As you can see in the photo above, Sugar and her jeep are generally centered. They are not in the intersections at all. Here is how the photo looks without the lines.

It isn't a BAD photo, and some would like it just the way it is, however simply placing the subject in one the intersections I will draw the viewer eye into the photo. I find that it lends a sense of motion, or tells a better story. Your eye is led in the direction she is driving. Do you agree?

Let's look at another example. Here is the photo with sugar nearly centered.

Again, not a bad photo. As you see, I followed the techniques featured in my last post. I moved in close, and I got down at her level. There is much to like about this particular photo. I believe, however, it is a tad more interesting following the "rule of thirds". In fact, you can rarely go wrong when following this simply rule.

Yes, rules are made to be broken, but I like to think that one should have a firm understanding of the rules before trying to step out of the box. So go ahead give it go yourself, and see if you like it. Personally, it is rare that I prefer the centered version over the "rule of thirds" version. Here are some other photos taken that day to "drive" home the idea. :)

Vertical photos follow this rule as well.

Don't forget to get down at their level. Here is another example of how that particular technique makes a difference. Here I am standing looking down on her.

Taken a few seconds later while squatting down to her level.

Let's review:

1. Move in close
2. Get down at their level.
3. Don't be too centered.

We are doing great. I can't wait to hear your thoughts. Have you tried any of these tips? Do you have questions? I appreciate all the questions and idea you offered up after the
last post. Soon I will be addressing lighting issues, fast moving toddlers, and ways to learn more about the camera you own.

Have a great week, and take lots of photos. Remember....the more pictures you take, the better you get.

32 Live It or Love It:

Unknown said...

What an awesome Jeep! I am jealous of the Jeep!

Thanks for your wonderful photography tips. I have a new camera and I am so very afraid to use it.

Keep 'em coming!!!

kat said...

Oh my I so want these posts to become a regular. I have taken up photography a little while ago and am saving for a nice camera etc. but I already find myself using your tips and hints in my pictures now.

Thank you...this has been a great help.

kat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
holly said...

corey, you rock.

this is so informational. i tried some stuff this weekend at the country farm park. and i realized i suck.

i *nearly* captured chicken porn, though. how does the rule of thirds apply to that? that almost sounds nasty.

jennwa said...

Thanks for the lessons, I am learning so much and I can not wait to use what you have taught me.
I have always centered things but now I can see a huge difference.
Thanks again I can not wait for my next lesson.

Donetta said...

Thank you for the tips. Great Ideas shared are a wealth of knowledge well used.

:) said...

Corey, Love the post and love the suggestions. I was going to ask you to post your ideas on how to shoot a fast moving toddler but you mentioned it at the bottom of the post so I anxiously look forward to that. I find that whenever I get my camera out my kids always "assume the position" and getting candids can sometimes be a trick. I think that is my fault because I tend to try to post them. I am working on that though. One thing....I just wish my camera was able to do "rapid fire" pictures...instead I have to wait about 10 seconds between pictures and by that time the photo op is over with...very frustrating.

My Trendy Tykes said...

Great tip!


Julie said...

You're right, Corey. This technique really revolutionizes the finished shot. Once you get used to seeing the image "in thirds," you'll never go back to the centered look. Great tip!

Unknown said...

I love the one with her climbing out of the jeep. Stunning jeep too btw!! Can't wait for the one on moving toddlers :)

we are reilly said...

LOVED this post again -- I really like learning different techniques -- things I never really thought about, but find interesting when I read about them.

david mcmahon said...

Good on ya, Corey,

These posts are valuable for blog-photographers. I've already recommended your first post on this subject to several people.

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

thank you for this, corey! i am terribly guilty of too much centering.

so do you think it is easier for beginners to shoot with the rule of thirds in mind or to just crop it so it's composed better post-production?

♥.Trish.♥ Drumboys said...

I am loving your site - I found you on Top momma (I am there too).
Great tips.Sugar is so sweet (no pun intended).
I can't wait to your fast moving toddler tips... I can't tie them to a tree can I.

Burgh Baby said...

More great tips! Thanks! I totally cannot wait for the fast moving toddlers episode of this program. I can't seem to win that battle no matter what I do.

Beth Ellen said...

Good examples and tips. I confess that often I in much of a rush and don't always think of my composition. It is getting better. :)

Anonymous said...

Great tips... I am a HUGE fan of trying to center everything. I will have to remember that next time I have a photo session with the princess! THanks for the tips! Happy monday!

Deb said...

You are a born teacher - you know just how to explain things so that they make sense, and using the images to really tell the story of how and why... I can't wait for more of these posts!

I haven't taken many pictures at all lately - but I plan to try your rules out soon. You'll have to see if you can tell a difference. :)

the rotten correspondent said...

Those are really helpful tips. And heaven knows I need them. Thanks!

CMB said...

I am looking forward to using these tips when I finally open my new camera. I still have not had a minute to watch my DVD.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Wow again. They definitely look better using this rule. I love this.

Lori said...

Love these tips! You need to figure out the flash and tell me how to do it! That's my biggest mistake.

Melissa said...

Really good tips. I have been doing photography for a while and started magoring in it and serioulsy love that post! Fun tips too! I need to get back out there and start using my camera again! Thanks for reminding me why I love it! :)

Anonymous said...

My hubs taught me the rule of thirds. Interesting little "trick." Great pics!

Lindy said...

Another great tutorial Corey! You need to put this stuff in a book : )

Michele said...

These are great tips, Corey, thank you. I will use them. I love the Jeep. I'm a big Jeep fan...I love my Jeep too. :)

Mary Ann said...

I love these posts Corey. I find myself "hearing your voice" while snapping pictures. More, more please!

mama bear said...

The best post ever! I do this since you talked about it a while back with me, but it is so good to hear and read about it again. You inspire me!

Unknown said...

I just found you & marvel at the information gained about photo taking. I will try some of your suggestions.. Thanks

Unknown said...

Stop by I have an award for you.
Blessings & Hugs

Forgetfulone said...

Great shots and great tips! I really want to learn more about photography. I wish I had better subjects to capture. I guess I need to find subjects wherever I am able.

Carolyn said...

Another winning tutorial!!

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