Sunday, November 27, 2011

The one thing you should know for making great pictures.

The one thing you should know for making pictures doesn't cost a dime. Everything rest in the composition of the image. Everything else is butter over that simple principle. All the expensive gear and doodads in the world can't help you a bit if you don't know how to compose a great picture.

So here's the basic guideline that has been used for hundreds, yes hundreds, of years since Leonardo Da Vinci to compose superb looking images: The rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds is simple, all your images should be divided along a grid of three vertical and horizontal sections. So if we take something simple like a sunset on a beach, you should have one third beach and two thirds sky, or vice versa. This will make a balanced image. This applies to anything else you shoot.

Every image you want to compose should be divided along these lines. Should, not have to. This rule like all others is meant to be broken at some point.

Now that's all fine and dandy but the real important part is the point of focus. That's what you want the viewer to look at first when going over the image. In the case of the sunset mentioned before, the sun would be the point of focus. But where to put it? Here's the kicker, the point of focus should be at or near one of the intersections of those lines that make up the grid.

Points of focus should be at one of those intersections

Here's how I do it in the real world. I have a grid on my view screen that divides it in 9 equal sections, 3 lines vertical, 3 lines horizontal. I find the subject that I want as my point of focus, half press the shutter to get it in focus and then place it at one of the intersection of the grid where I think it looks good and that most of the image is equally divided in three sections. I shoot and I'm done.

The point of focus here is her eye. The horizontal is divided with hair, face and chest. The vertical is background, front in light of the subject and the darker back of the subject.

Take a look at great paintings, TV, films and commercial ads and you'll see that the rule of thirds is applied everywhere. For some unkown reason, the human eye is attracted by that set up.

This one was taken on the fly. My point of focus was the Fireman on the right. I focused the subject and then composed the image. Horizontal sections are top of truck, people and car/stretcher. Vertical is truck/car, smashed front/firemen and front of truck/stretcher.

Have fun taking pictures.

Gerry :)

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