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CCYL 11: Centerpoint – Breaking the Rule of Thirds

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.

Centerpoint – Breaking the Rule of Thirds

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 centerpoint 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?

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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


12 replies »

  1. Thank you for the lessons. I hope to get a real camera soon so I can get good distant shots. And these have been helpful.


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