rule of thirds photographyToday we’re going to dive into photography and learn some principles that make for successful picture taking. Let’s start by learning a little more about the rule of thirds. We’ll first take a look at this picture by National Geographic.


The Rule of Thirds states that as we break an image into three segments vertically and horizontally, focus points should be placed along the lines to get the most appealing affect and create emphasis. That is exactly what this photographer did. You can see that the cliff and rock climber stand out more than anything else which is largely because they were placed along the lines.

Example #2

rule of thirds 2

Picture by National Geographic.


The photographer in this picture placed the camera and the Alligator’s teeth along the lines creating emphasis on those two objects. Because thee teeth and the camera are the focus, it creates greater suspense as you wonder what the alligator might to do the photographer.



leading lines photography

Next we’ll take a look at leading lines. As we look at the next few pictures, take not of how the lines draw you to the focus of the picture. The first photograph is by National Geographic


Another way to put emphasis on an object is to draw the eye there with leading lines. In this example the rays of sunlight draw your eye down toward the elephant which is the focus of the photograph. It is a natural way for the photographer to get you to look where he/she wants you to.

Example #2

leading lines 2

Photograph by National Geographic.


The photographer in this picture used leading lines as well, to draw your eye towards the man walking across the log. This time, the lines were made by the slanting trees. Not only does it put greater emphasis on the man, it creates a sort of umbrella over him adding great visual interest.


depth of field photography

This picture by National Geographic teaches us a lot about depth of field, which basically makes it so the background is not the focus and there is something obvious to fix your eyes on.  With the depth of field, the camera does what our eyes do for us in real life, they focus on what we’re actually trying to look at!


One way to put focus on the objects you want to, is to blur out or take the background out of the focus. Because the photographer would have had to zoom in a lot, to get a picture of these insects, the background was almost blurred out completely. This is helpful to the viewer because there are a lot of details on these two insects. Instead of having to process the background and the distinguish it from the main focus, our eyes can focus entirely on the beauty of these insects.

Example #2

depth of field 2.

Picture by National Geographic.


Rather than just focusing on the main object, the photographer of this picture, focused on an entire scene and created a depth of field from the rest of the background. Because the monkeys, the plants they are eating and the cement are focused and the rest is not, we are able to distinguish them from the rest of the forest.

Three in One


I took this last picture to demonstrate how all three principle can be applied in one picture.



First of all, the pitcher and the tallest flower were placed upon the lines created by the rule of thirds. This makes the placement of the flower pot visually appealing to the viewer. Next I used leading lines in the sidewalk and brick wall to lead the eye back to the pot once again. This creates visual interest while keeping the flowers as the main focus. Lastly, the background is slightly blurred creating depth of field and making it not too overwhelming for the viewer.


The most important rule in photography is that you can always break the rules. It’s important to know them, to know what you’re doing and then to find the best way to apply them or break them, that works best for you. These three rules will allow you to take the next step in your photography! So enjoy and be bold!


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