The Rule Of Thirds In iPhone Photography Tutorial

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“The Rule Of Thirds In iPhone Photography Tutorial” by Emil Pakarklis – a passionate iPhoneographer and the founder of iPhone Photography School, a website dedicated to helping people take and edit better photos with the iPhone

The Rule Of Thirds In iPhone Photography

There is a saying that no editing can turn a bad photo into a good one, so the first step in creating a spectacular photo is capturing it right. It turns out that the quality of any photo is largely determined by its composition, so that’s what we’ll be covering first.

One of the key principles in any form of photography is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds uses gridlines, which are lines splitting the photo in three equal parts, to determine where the main subjects of the photo should be placed.

The Main Subject Of The Photo

Wait, you don’t know what the main subject of your photo is?

The main subject is the part (or the parts) of the photo that the human eye notices first. In many cases, the main subject is what you were actually taking a photo of. For example, in the following photo the first thing you noticed is the person reading a book on the beach.

So that person is the main subject of the photo.

If your photo doesn’t have a clear main subject (or subjects), the chances are that it’s not a very good photo. After all, you don’t even know what you were taking a photo of…

The Rule Of Thirds

Now that we’re clear on this, let’s turn our attention to the the rule of thirds. According to this rule, the main subject or subjects of your photo should be placed at the intersections of gridlines.

If your primary subject is a person, their eyes and head form most important part of the composition. That’s why the cyclist’s head was intentionally placed at the intersection of the gridlines.

Similarly, the rule of thirds also states that the most important lines in the photo (such as the horizon) or any other lines such as trees should be placed along the gridlines.

If you take a closer look at the photo of the cyclist, you’ll notice that the line separating sand from water is placed along with the bottom horizontal gridline.

And if you look at the B&W silhouette photo at the top of this post, you’ll notice that the horizon roughly coincides with the bottom gridline.

The Most Common Mistake Beginners Make

If you’re like most people, you will intuitively try to place your main subject in the center of the photo. Unfortunately that is also the absolutely worst thing you can do to your photos, and even placing the subject slightly off the center will look a lot better.

Consider the photo above. The flower is obviously the only thing that’s even worth looking at in this photo. But I still placed the flower off the center to put it in the surrounding context and make the composition more harmonious by following the rule of thirds.

Or consider this photo of a lighthouse. Once again, I only took this photo because of the lighthouse… and yet I placed the lighthouse on the side of the composition.

Even though it’s counterintuitive, the best thing you can do to your photography is to never place the subject that you’re taking a photo of in the center. It might feel weird, but it works.

How To Turn On The Gridlines

If you don’t automatically think about photos in terms of composition, make sure to turn on the gridlines so that you’re constantly reminded about composition and the rule of thirds.

You can turn on gridlines in almost any camera app, and they will make many composition decisions a lot easier for you. To turn on gridlines on the iPhone, tap on the Options button inside the iPhone’s camera app, and make sure that Grid switch is turned on.

Next week we’re going to go beyond the basics and cover more advanced composition techniques, so stay tuned for more!


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