Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Rule of Thirds

On Friday night, we stopped by the Met for a gallery talk on David's The Death of Socrates. Great lecture. Of interest to photographers: this painting serves as a perfect example of composition using the "rule of thirds."

The basic idea photographers can learn from this: rather than automatically placing the subject dead center of the frame, explore what happens when you place the main subject -- in this case, Socrates face -- at one a point 1/3 from the top of the frame, or 1/3 from the side of the frame, or at the "node" 1/3 from each.

While life will rarely unfold in front of you in perfect composition, thinking of the photographic rectangle of film or digital cameras as divided into three parts is a powerful strategy. For many images, setting up a 2/3 versus 1/3 arrangement creates a much more dynamic composition.

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