Rule of Thirds in photography is a well known, some would say infamous thumb rule used in photography. Imagine the photo divided into nine sections using two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. The four points at which the lines intersect are referred to as the points of interest. When you frame a picture, try to place the important elements in the frame in such a way that they coincide with one or more of these points. This will make the photograph more interesting and beautiful.
The Rule of Thirds can be applied to both horizontal frames and vertical frames.
Picture below shows the Rule of Thirds as applicable to a Horizontal frame.
Picture below shows the Rule of Thirds as applicable to a Vertical frame.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules in photography. It is not necessary that you have to follow this rule. You can ignore the rule altogether and still take breathtakingly beautiful photos. However, if you are a beginner, then it is always better to follow these rules.
In the photo below, you can see that the point of interest, the Bird’s head, is placed on one of the four points-of-interest, which makes the picture more pleasing to the eye.
If you find it difficult to place the subject in any of the four points-of-interest using the viewfinder, try the Live-View option in your Digital SLR camera (if your camera supports it). Otherwise, you can use grids in your favorite photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Aperture, and crop the picture accordingly.
So, before taking a snap, ask yourself: what are the interesting objects in the photo you are trying to capture? Then frame it in such a way that you bring it in any one or more on the four points-of-interest.
The Rule of Thirds also applies to landscape photography. Take a look at the three photos shown below.
Which one do you find more pleasing when compared to the others?
I bet you chose the first or the third. In the first photo, the sky occupies two third of the photo. In the second photo, sky and the foreground land area are equally divided. In the third photo, land and the rocks occupy the two-third section and sky occupies one-third section. Both first and third photos obey the Rule of Thirds and as a result you will find them more interesting that the second photo.
It is similar to a football match. If both the teams score equal number of goals then match will end in a draw, which won’t be a pleasing result. One team has to win; same is the case with this thumb rule of photography.