NOT THE RULE OF THIRDS – DOWN THE MIDDLE

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CEE’S COMPOSE YOURSELF PHOTO CHALLENGE: WEEK #11 CENTERPOINT – BREAKING THE RULE OF THIRDS

From Cee:

This week’s CCY Theme is Centerpoint – Breaking the Rule of Thirds. For this assignment I would like to see at least 4-6 photos of photos taken with the center of your photo being the location of your main subject. 

When is a rule not a rule?

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I’m not a very good follower of rules. I think rigid adherence to rules — in art or in life — stifles creativity. Thus, although I understand the guidelines, I don’t think about them while I’m shooting. I look in the viewfinder or screen . When I see something that pleases me, I shoot. No matter where it falls in the picture.

It belonged in the middle and any other position looks weird.

The rule of thirds is a useful guideline — especially during editing — but it is by no means a law that must always be followed. Many pictures fall naturally into thirds. If you have to force it, the rule probably doesn’t  … or shouldn’t … apply.

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As Cee showed in her examples, just because you can crop and force a photograph to fit “the rule,” it doesn’t mean the result will be satisfying. Know when to follow your own eye and instinct.

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Macros often work out best place in the middle of the frame, at least in part because of the way macro lenses focus. When you are shooting very tight and close, you often don’t have much choice in where you put your subject. Or, more to the point, you may want your picture on the left, but your camera may have its own idea. I do not argue with my lenses because I always lose.

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Sometimes the middle is the middle and not the middle. This is one of those.

When the frame is completely full, your picture is by definition in the middle!

When you fill your frame completely, the subject tends to be in the middle by default.

The middle, but also the left upper quadrant and the right lower quadrant. When you work a diagonal, is the picture centered?

The above picture is centered … but it’s also on a diagonal. It’s not always a simple choice.

The street is in the middle, but maybe the interesting parts on on either side? It's not always 100% obvious where the main subject really is.

The most important lesson to learn is that rules are not rigid or mandatory. They are meant to be broken. Understanding why rules exist is dandy, but don’t follow blindly. Use your eyes, your heart, and your vision.

It’s rule breakers who are remembered as great artists.

CEE’S COMPOSE YOURSELF : USING TWO-THIRDS OF THE FRAME

CEE’S COMPOSE YOURSELF PHOTO CHALLENGE: WEEK #10 USING 2/3 OF YOUR PHOTO FRAME

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From Cee:

As I promised in last week’s essay about the Rule of Thirds, I’m going to extend that discussion to cover what I call the Magic of Two-Thirds. Instead of putting your subject in one-third of the frame, use two-thirds, leaving the rest bokeh or negative space to accent your subject.

As with the Rule of Thirds, you can use the upper or lower two-thirds or the left or right two-thirds. I use two-thirds a lot with my flower photography, so you’ll see a lot of examples here. It’s great to use for any still life photography.

You can use the top and bottom two-thirds, but I find those are harder for me to frame, especially using the top two-thirds. Top weighted photos can look a little awkward sometimes. They can be quite effective if done right.

But enough words… let’s turn to the things that say a thousand words… some pictures!

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These are the proportions I use for most pictures flowers, gardens, and bouquets. These are also ideal proportions for many (most) portraits.

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I’ll try to include a variety of subjects. It think the important thing is to leave at least a quarter to a third of any picture more or less empty. If you make every part of the picture busy, it’s hard for the eye to find the main subject.

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This proportion is also important when designing a page for print or web. You need to make sure you have “white space” or it becomes difficult to read or focus.

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UP CLOSE KAITY PROM PORTRAIT

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wang theater boston night

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Bi-tonal treament (warm-cold filter) on the Mumford River Dam

CCY: RULE OF THIRDS – PART I

CEE’S COMPOSE YOURSELF PHOTO CHALLENGE: WEEK #9 RULE OF THIRDS INTRODUCTION

FROM CEE:

For some reason, an off-center picture is more pleasing to us. It looks more natural. We know from the Brain Game tv show that if we stare at something right in the middle of the screen, our peripheral vision diminishes to the point where it’s not working much at all. Maybe that is what’s happening… we like things off-centered so that we can see more of what’s going on around us.

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We also know that the brain fills in negative space, so maybe that’s all part of how we tell stories with pictures. You’ll see what I mean in a moment.

So let’s divide your view finder into a gird with nine boxes (see grid for landscape photos to the right). The rule of thirds says that you should place the subject of your picture on one of the points where the lines intersect.


Non-photographically speaking, reality isn’t centered. The real world is rarely framed front and center, so perhaps eccentric looks more natural because it is more natural.

Let me see what I can find that fits the challenge. Among my more than 100,000 images, there are bound to be a few, right?

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Which Way Green River Bridge

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fuchsia macro june 2015

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Just remember: There are a million exceptions for every rule. Sometimes, the picture is in the middle and that’s precisely where it belongs.

DIAGONAL LINES: CEE’S CCY CHALLENGE WEEK 8

CEE’S COMPOSE YOURSELF PHOTO CHALLENGE: WEEK #8 DIAGONAL LINES

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One of the very first principles of composition I learned … maybe the only principle of composition I learned … was that a leading diagonal line give a picture “movement.”

 

Without some kind of angle to take the viewer’s eye into the picture, the scene tends to be static.

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That’s why pictures of horizons with sunsets are often pretty, but unexciting. Because there’s a flat horizon and nothing going on in the foreground. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

dawn on Misty beach Ogunquit

I’ll shut up now and just show some pictures!

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A few words about cropping:

Tight cropping often completely changes a picture and what it’s about. When the diagonal is part of the larger picture, it is drawing the viewer’s attention to something else — other than itself. When the diagonal is the picture, it’s about that wire, or that edge, or fence, or stream.

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There’s nothing wrong with it and it may be a more interesting picture … but it isn’t the same picture.

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When you crop, you need to decide not only what looks good, but what you want to say. In other words, what’s the picture about?

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And for extra credit, this from the leading lines challenge a few weeks ago, zig-zag fence in Vermont is about as diagonal as you can get.

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