Monday, February 21, 2011

Rules are for breaking

The Rule of Thirds in action.
I have talked at times about shooting children and how one must get down to their level to get the best pictures. Well this is usually true. But like most rules it is made to be broken.

Just don't throw out all the rules at once.

Study today's picture of my granddaughter. The little tyke is asleep in her car seat. I quietly folded the carrying handle back behind the seat and turned the bright yellow duck so that some of its face was visible.

I positioned myself directly above the sleeping child. Note the composition. Think Rule of Thirds. To apply this rule cross the picture with two lines horizontally and with two lines vertically, dividing the image into thirds in both directions. The image is broken into 9 sections.

The four lines are useful for placing strong, directional elements in a photo. Think horizons and trees, etc. Placing strong points of interest at, or near, the intersections of these lines makes for a naturally balanced image.

All three heads, the child's, the teddy's and the duckie's, are approximately at an intersection of two lines. Following this rule while shooting comes naturally to some photographers but many more have to apply it consciously at first.

By activating three of the intersections in my picture of my granddaughter note that the heads trace a triangle in the same way that stars form the Big Dipper in the night sky. In art school we were told this implied triangle gave the image a solid base and added quiet strength. Remember, a lot of this compositional stuff is found after the fact — much like the Big Dipper appeared after the stars were formed.

It is important to shoot lots and, if you can't recall the Rule of Thirds while your taking your pictures, think serendipity and keep an alert eye while editing.

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