Thursday, April 19, 2012

Friday Hometown Shootout - Rule of Thirds

Today I walk into the studio right behind Butler who was a little late because he was pressing his socks.

BAGMAN (looking very confused): "What are you guys doing here?"

BUTLER: (looking suddenly confused): What do you mean what are we doing here?"

BAGMAN: "I didn't think you guys had the stomach for this weeks theme. Ain't it too gross for you?"

BUTLER: "Gross?"

BAGMAN: "The Rule of Turds. I can't believe someone came up with such a gross theme!"

"Wait a minute," I reply, jumping into the conversation. "It's the Rule of Thirds"...NOT turds!"

BAGMAN: "Huh?"

BUTLER: "It's simple. You divide the picture surface by two horizontal lines and two vertical lines forming a grid of six sections."

BAGMAN: "So why isn't it called the Rule of Sixths?"

BUTLER (ignoring him): "Pictures look better if the primary subject areas are oriented on the four places where the six lines converge."

BAGMAN: "So why isn't i called the Rule of Fourths?"

Butler looks at me. I look at Butler. Neither of us has an answer for this. Bagman starts dancing around, doing a little shadow boxing and grinning.

BAGMAN: "And you guys think you are so smart."

"You know," I say to Butler, changing the subject, "My grandfather, who was an artist, used to tell me about the 'Golden Mean'
BUTLER (relieved to escape Bagmand's dilemma and recovering his holier-than-thou posture): "That is a different aesthetic ratio that dates back to Pythagoras and Euclid in which two quantities are in the golden mean or golden ratio if the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger quantity is equal to the ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller one."

BAGMAN: "Huh?"

I echo, "Huh?"

We all stare at each other for a long time trying to figure out how we are going to make a post from this mathematical morass.

Finally, I break the silence. "You know, when I use the cropping tool in Photoshop, it shows a grid. Maybe that's helpful. And there is also one in the viewfinder of the Nikon."

BUTLER: "So you've been doing this for a long time."

"I guess," I say. "But, in any case, I didn't do much shooting this week anyhow."

BAGMAN: "You guys figure it out. I'm going to the outhouse to practice my stomach's rule of turds."

So Butler and I try to figure out what to do. Finally we decide to find a couple of average photographs in the archive and see if we can improve them by cropping them according to the Rule of Thirds, Fourths, or Sixths.

I kind of liked this shot already and it seemed to be kind of thirdish...but I fiddled with it anyway and came up with the shot below, where the center between the two spans is near an intersection point and the walkway runs along the lower horizontal.

I think I like the second one a bit better as a composition but I was sorry that it cut out the dramatic top of the cloud in the upper right. But when I included the cloud, everything else was off. Maybe I should have framed it better in the camera when I first shot it. Photoshop can't fix everything. I suppose that if I was really ambitious, I could use the clone stamp and move the cloud down but I was running out of time.

Then I pulled out another -

This was in my file of "Snapshots." I usually differentiate between family snapshots and photographs because there are lots of pictures I want to keep for memory value that I don't think are particularly good photos. But I thought I'd see how this might be cropped to be more Thirdish.

It is still not a picture that will ever hang in a gallery but I think that Thirding it up a bit did improve it somewhat. It also brought more attention to Conner in the background and made me wonder what he was thinking.

Anyhow, that's about it for today. I can't wait to see how other people handled this topic. It was a good learning experience for me.


  1. Jeesh, I wish you hadn't raised all of those good questions involving's got me wondering now. I like how you show before and after pics; I wish I had thought of doing that. Anyway, both your snapshot and bridge are cool shots, thanks for sharing!

  2. I like that term, "thirdish"! And I agree with you about the cloud on the first picture; it really adds so much to it, so I like the first one better.
    With the snapshot, thirding it did indeed improve it.

  3. Is that the Two Teetons Bridge you photographed?

  4. The photo header looks like the rule of thirds hehe. Beautiful composition of "thirdish"! ^_^


  5. That was fun, but also very instructional. I feel as though I learned something :)

  6. I have a feeling I know where you were sitting when you thought up this topic! Seriously, I learned something I didn't know and your examples are cool. It really does improve the shots!

  7. Love all your shots, before and after! sometimes the rule of thirds are meant to be broken,to get a better pictures.

  8. I'd put the snapshot in my gallery - I think it's so delightfully sweet.

  9. I agree with Librarian, I preferred the first shot of the first shot (if that makes sense) but the second is full of love and is great.

  10. I agree this is a rule one should probably have in mind already when using the camera, it is not always easy to fix it by cropping.

  11. Well I had asked for critique on my post with my photos but I want you doing it not B&B. This was a great learning theme although I bet I had not even thought of it before when taking photos. I will now.

  12. I like that you included both versions of both photos. (I couldn't do that because I'm following a strict diet of photo per day. ::sigh::)

    If I hadn't seen the original of the landscape photo, I wouldn't know about those stunning clouds. The second is more aesthetically pleasing because of the 3rds, but the first is a WOW moment.

    As for the second set, my eyes and mind were all over the 2nd shot wondering what Conner was up to and thinking.

  13. Yep, add me to the consensus. Before and after was a brilliant idea. Love the last "snapshot".

    I read an article the other day that creative people remember their dreams more often and more vividly than the average person. You must fall into that category of people who wake with vivid memories of what went on during sleep. Well, I would think so anyway.

  14. Only you would think to play tic tac toe with this one.

  15. I did NOT read yours before doing mine.... and if you count aren't there NINE squares... which makes a little bit more sense as it is a multiple of 3 or thirds or turds.... whatever.
    I found that I usually like the original photo better than the cropped. maybe I picked the wrong kind of photo. maybe with one subject versus landscapes. is conner a little butler? he has sort of a Butler look on his face....

  16. 1/3. 1/6, my maths was not my strong point. I cropped and I think the 1/3 looks good.

    do you have trouble loading the photos?

  17. I'm afraid cloud wins over correct for me! But your cropped snapshot really proves the thirdish point! But most of all I love how you illustrated the thirds rule on your header.

  18. Funny! In Key West all shops were pushing T-shirts. One young lady with an accent told me, buy two shirts, and the turd shirt is half off.

    Walking out of the store, I told my nephew "I don't want a turd shirt!" He replied, "But, it's half off!"