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CCYL 10: Using 2/3 of your photo frame

Since most of us are stuck inside our homes or yards, I decided to rerun a series I did several years ago, called Cee’s Compose Yourself Lesson (CCYL).  This is not a challenge, but I suggest you play with new ideas or ways of looking at taking photos.  Hopefully this will fill your day with a little excitement and joy.  Please feel free to play along and join in the fun.

Using 2/3 of your photo frame

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.

This fallen tree takes up the bottom 2/3 of the frame.

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:

Left Two-Thirds: You’ll see me doing this quite often with my flower shots. The bokeh on the right helps define the image.

A different daffodil that takes up the right two-thirds. Reading from the right to left on this photo works because your eye naturally goes to the brightest spot which is on the right and then your eye will natural flow to the left.

Here’s another floral this time a dahlia. See how the blue background sets off the image?  You can easily flip the picture and lead with your negative space.  Flipping your photos horizontal works on most photos.

I find that using the bottom two-thirds is fun, too. I love this wood carving. Keeping a little negative space at the top of the frame makes you wonder what the man is looking at.

This picture is one of my all time favorites. These hands belong to a 93 year old woman whose wish was to get on a horse one last time. We were there to record that day for her. Her hand lovingly resting on the horse’s neck is made more dramatic by the blackness of the interior of the barn behind her. I like this so much that I’m using it for the badge for this challenge.

This picture has nothing to do with the essay, but I just thought you’d like to see the face that belongs with the hand.

Here’s one that’s bending the two-thirds rule a bit. Maybe it’s more like three-quarters. My point it that if I would have cropped out the one-third that is the sky, the shot of this Tacoma, WA (USA) high school wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting.

Now for a couple of top-weighted pictures:

Here’s an example of how I use this in flower photography to create an unusual view. For those who don’t recognize it, this is the underside of a tulip.

Here’s one that’s just fun. I put my cell phone against the wall and shot up toward the ceiling to grab a shot of this wall lamp. My phone is resting against a sign that said you couldn’t use cell phones, and the sign was covered in a clear plastic sheet that acted like a mirror.

And one last top weighted picture of a stormy sunset over the ocean…

I’ve gathered a list of challenges and their hosts.  So if you know a challenge host, please direct them to my blog.  Feel free to contact me anytime.  I hope everyone will be able to use my lists.

Qi (energy) hugs


24 replies »

  1. Thank you for these excellent illustrations of the 2/3 technique. Needless to say I absolutely loved the photo of the woman’s hand on the horse’s withers and also the photo of her on the horse.If I live to 95 I hope I can still get on a horse and that someone will record it in a photo.


  2. Wonderful shots and tips! Your flowers are always amazing. And I love the story and emotion evoked from the woman’s hand on the horse. Really special. 🙂


  3. You are amazing. Thanks for all those great ideas! How did you know we would love to see that lady’s face? I had to look up bokeh, so thanks for a new word, too! Did I mention that you’re amazing??


  4. I’ve noticed in reading your post that I’ve unconsciously used this rule of 2/3s on occasion in my own work. Never connected the thought that it is what made the composition interesting to me. Thanks for the heads up. I have a new composition style to look for.


  5. Love this series Cee. I was especially struck by the photo of the hand on the horse. The story behind it, her weathered hand, the ring and the American flag fabric all tied together with the golden color of the horse just got me.


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