RE:Framed: Photography and the power of the Rule of Thirds

The Power of Three.  Not one, but Three.  I’ve been obsessing over this concept recently ever since I came across it in The Count of Monte Cristo.  This book, which essentially is Pretty Little Liars meets Revenge meets Gossip Girl is, although long, full of twists and turns and metaphors, and in short, it’s just great.  Now, not to give away any spoilers, the main character of The Count of Monte Cristo  splits himself into 3 main characters in which he uses to enact his revenge on his enemies.  Other instances in the novel occur in threes as well – which led me to question the significance of this crazy number.

Naturally, our brain prefers things to be in thirds.  In photography, the rule of thirds exists to outline the perfect composition of a photo.  3 cards are more ideal than one, kitchen appliances are sold in threes, people love getting triple scoops, the number three is endless!  We can’t forget, the 3 Pigs, The Scarecrow, The Cowardly, and the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, and other story book characters.  Any object or figment of imagination in this world is more powerful when it exists in threes.  Why is that?  I’d leave it up to the creators to know.

I’d like to touch back on photography because this post (as you can see from the title) is centered around photography.  There are just bazillions of food pictures on this blog, and although some might not be composed to perfection, most of my photos are composed in thirds.  The “Rule of Thirds” is the basic rule to an ideal photograph.  Generally speaking, pictures are more pleasant and balanced in a setting of thirds versus in the middle.  Naturally, with the rule of thirds, a person’s eyes focus directly on the subject on the photo first, making for some neat visual effects.

To take a picture using the Rule of Thirds, first divide the camera frame into 9 equal sections:

The upper blue dots signify areas where the eye line, or the subject line, could be in place where a portrait would be perfectly composed.  But we’re not talking portraits, we’re talking food photography here.

I normally shoot my pictures with just a regular point and shoot (but hopefully I’m upgrading to a DSLR soon Mom if you’re reading this hint).  A point and shoot works fine, but a DSLR is best for taking dynamic food photography with a shallow point of view for the best blurred background.

Getting back onto the rule of thirds, you can see this rule demonstrated in these photos:

Sinful Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (say that 5 times fast) DSCN3843 1

cupcake 2 DSCN2822

See?  In all my photos, either the subject of the photo is either to the left, or to the right, and not awkwardly in the center.

Here are more examples, but with the guidelines,

DSCN8188 1
The Springbird Burger from Unami Burger in Costa Mesa
DSCN8186 1
Unami Fries from Unami Burger in Costa Mesa

I’m going to demonstrate how to crop a photo using rule of thirds:

thirds 1

1.  Hello beautiful homemade toast box cake.  You were so delicious, full of ice cream, fruit, and baked in a deliciously coated honey toast box.  However, this photo was not as tasty as you.  Taken with you in the middle?  Atrocious.  Luckily, with the help of iPiccy, we can fix that!

Thirds 2

2.  So, using the crop function, the first thing I’m going to do is sort of visualize the interaction I want someone’s eyes to take with this photo.  Since the box is a square, and it’s turned in the same direction as its plate, I want to give the effect of someone leaning onto the toast box. The angles and the 3D factor of this toast box allows me to play around and actually make the toast box pop out at my viewers, if I crop it correctly. Thirds 3

4.  So now I’m going to crop it on the upper left thirds of this photo, using the 2 lines in the middle as a guideline.  The lines the middle represent areas where the subject of the photo should lie.  So after a click of a button…Thirds 4
5.  BAM!  A whole new picture…  I think it’s just great how the toast box looks like it’s actually about to pop right in your eyes because of it’s shape and place in the photo.  Visually, it’s much more interesting than being placed smack dab in the middle.  And also, I think your eyes naturally focus on the toast box, rather than the spoons or the other distracting artifacts that were in the background of the photo.

Of course, the rule of thirds can be broken any time, but it’s a basic photography concept to center your photos around.

Do you practice the rule of thirds in your food photography?

Happy Baking this week everyone!  Feel free to link me to a picture where you used the rule of thirds!

-Kristie xx

And by the way, I have important exams coming up in 2 weeks that may or may not affect my future dramatically so I won’t be posting as much.  Apologies ahead of time!





12 thoughts on “RE:Framed: Photography and the power of the Rule of Thirds”

  1. Hi Kristie!
    So when you say: ” Why is that? I’d leave it up to the creators to know.” I’m just wondering who the creators are. Like the creators of the universe or the creators of the power of three orrr
    Also I like when you say: “I’d like to touch back on photography because this post (as you can see from the title) is centered around photography.” Because that is such a good pun.

    1. Well, to answer about the creators, I’ve learned to keep my post friendly and religion neutral as possible (you can see what the religious wars did to Europe) so the creators may be God, Greek God, the Norse Gods, anyone! Any denomination has its own creator!

      I wrote this post at 11 on a school night and my brain just isn’t as 100% as it should be (but when is it ever). But hey, just in case people couldn’t tell my post was about photography!

      1. No but when you say it’s centered around photography it’s really clever because according to the rule of thirds, the focus point of the picture should be off-center. That’s what I was trying to say with the second part of my comment 🙂

      2. OHHHH! I never intended to make that pun in the first place! In all honesty, I was really tired and wow, that’s so great that you noticed that Celine! Maybe YOU are the punny one 🙂

    1. Thank’s Mr. T! I’d say perfect human beings, though, are unattainable and take away the traits that make up humanity.

      1. If WordPress let me “like”‘ your comments I would do so right away!

      2. Oh you can make liking comments an option in your settings! I forgot how exactly, but you can probably Google it (sorry I’m too lazy and I can’t remember how I did it).

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