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Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: Week #11 Centerpoint – Breaking the Rule of Thirds

This week’s CCY Theme is Centerpoint – Breaking the Rule of Thirds. 

5-gold-starsFor your weekly assignment I would like to see at least 4-6 photos of photos taken with absolutely center of your photo being where  your main subject.  Please described what you learned in this lesson as well.

Each week I will select several features from everyone who submits an entry.  And from those posts that I feature, I will grant one blogger the Gold Star Award.  To find out who was awarded the Gold Star Award and Features for this week, please see CCY Week #10 Using 2/3 of Your Photo Frame.

Note:  Participants who do not have at least 4 photo showing their attempt at this week’s topic in their post will not be featured nor be considered for the Gold Star Award.


To continue our discussion of the rule of thirds, let’s start by breaking it. Before you can break any rule, you have to understand it enough to be able to break it successfully. One thing you can do to break the rule of thirds is to put your subject in the middle of the frame. Although, using the counterpoint doesn’t always work.  It can make for a rather boring photo.  If you are going to use the middle at all, you need a specific and small point of focus, something that will draw immediately the eye to the center of the frame which your eye will then flow through the rest of the photo.

(Note: a square framed picture works best for a subject in the middle because it helps keep your eye in the center of the picture. We’ll talk about square perspectives in an upcoming essay.)

Here’s an example. Nice dahlia, right? What does your eye do when you look at this picture?

121315middle angled flower doesn't pop like the direct center

This doesn’t work as well because the center of the flower isn’t centered in the frame. It’s facing slightly right, so your eye wants to land in the center and then travel to the right and out of the frame. It would have been better if I’d taken the center of the flower closer to the left side of the frame so your eye could finish looking at the whole flower.

Here are some floral examples of how well using the middle third works when your subject is face forward.

121215middle - dahlia

121215middle - flower


You can use the middle third for things other than flowers. This steam engine works well in the middle.

121215middle - farm steam engine

Using the middle works for things other than circles, too. Here is a simple subject, centered in the frame.

121215middle - brick wall

121215middle - screw_1

Let’s do a fun wrap of the Rule of Thirds by looking at one picture cropped a number of ways, putting the subject in different thirds. Let’s look at Fido getting a drink at the local pond. Here’s the original full frame, switched to black and white so that the noise of the color doesn’t distract from the subject.  Note:  In this original photo I did have the nose right in the middle.

121315middle dog nose in original

Let’s crop it using still using the nose as the middle along with a square crop.   Notice that the dog’s nose is smack dab in the center of the photo. Your eye is happy to stay right there. It doesn’t care what’s to the right or left of our dog.

121315middle dog nose in middle of photo

Now let’s crop it, keeping our dog in the lower third. It still works, but isn’t as interesting.

121315middle dog nose in one third of photo

Let’s go to two-thirds to the left with the dog and his reflection dominating the picture.

121315middle dog nose in two thirds of photo

Upcoming Challenges

  • Week #11 Centerpoint – Breaking the Rule of Thirds (current)
  • Week #12 Critique My Work – I will give show you a couple of photos and you can either copy them and correct the compositional errors or write a post about how I got things wrong or right
  • Week #13 Perspective
  • Week #14 Symmetry
  • Week #15 Cropping Tips
  • Week #16 Intersections

Qi (energy) hugs


52 replies »

  1. This will be a fun challenge. And, amazingly, it’s not raining today so I can go out in search of subjects to center – yay! I love your shot of the candytuft. The vivid colors and the bokeh are amazing!


  2. Great illustration for this challenge. I have to admit I don’t think about where I’m putting the subject when I’m shooting. It falls together the way it should … or not. The magic works more often than not, but it doesn’t always work. Lots of reasons why thing don’t always go as planned 🙂


    • You have been taking photos long enough and know enough about composition, I’m sure it is just automatic for you. I usually don’t have to think about it either. That’s why writing the essays for my challenges can be hard. Break down the steps to what I now do naturally.


      • I’m like you … self-taught. I didn’t know there WERE any rules until a few years ago, even though I’ve been shooting for more than 40 years. I just spent a lot of time looking at other people photographs, figuring out what I liked, then trying to do the same thing. I was surprised to discover there were all these rules 🙂


        • That is how I did it too. I studied other people photos, and still do, and figure out what I like and don’t like. Some of it is purely just what I like irregardless of the rules. Some photos that do fit the rules and works, I just don’t like and that is just the way I see. I call that artistic interpretation. 😀


  3. I love the steam engine and the screw tip this week. The massive presence of the engine’s front casting and the potential danger of the little tip counterbalance each other in my mind.


    • You make a good point Allan. I guess out of all the photos I could have chosen to put together, I did those. Guess Composition is on my mind. 😀


  4. Thanks Cee. This was very informative and helpful … especially the different examples with the dog. That first crop with the nose in the centre and the dog only partially in the photo is the kind of composition I really struggle with. Your description of each crop was really helpful and simply explained.


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