Ruling the Animal Kingdom in Thirds

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

The Rule of Thirds is a compositional rule in photography and other visual arts. The rule states that an image can be divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The four points which I refer to as power points formed by the intersections of these lines can be used to align features in the photograph. This aligning of a photograph’s subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the photo than simply centering the subject would.

Below are three photos taken at Disney’s Animal Kingdom which show the use the Rule of Thirds. First, I will show you the photo as taken and then followed with a grid overlaid showing the lines of the Rule of Thirds.

Here is an Addax (Addax nasomaculatus) antelope on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Addax antelope on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Addax antelope on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 500, EV +0.3, 300mm Focal Length.

Here is the same photo with the grid.

Addax antelope on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Addax antelope on the Kilimanjaro Safari with the Rule of Thirds Grid.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 500, EV +0.3, 300mm Focal Length.

This shows you do not have to have the power points exactly covered. The antelope’s head, eye and horns are close enough for a good composition. This type of photo is nice to use as a title in a slideshow, on a website or blog.

An African Elephant drinking water on the Kilimanjaro Safari is the next subject.

African Elephant on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
African Elephant on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 500, EV +0.3, 135mm Focal Length.

Here is the same photo with the grid.

African Elephant on the Kilimanjaro Safari in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
African Elephant on the Kilimanjaro Safari with the Rule of Thirds Grid.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 500, EV +0.3, 135mm Focal Length.

In a portrait of an animal or person, it is good to have one of the horizontal lines near the eyes like this one.

Landscape photos are also vastly improved when using the Rule of Thirds like this one of Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Expedition: EVEREST.

Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Expedition EVEREST in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 360, EV 0, 58mm Focal Length.

Here is the same photo with the grid.

Expedition EVEREST in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Expedition EVEREST in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 360, EV 0, 58mm Focal Length.

Notice how the lines and power points line up with the mountain and the canoe in a pleasing composition.

Studying how others use composition and putting it to practice will help you to improve your photography.

Scott's "Photographic Innoventions" blog focuses on intermediate to advanced photography concepts and techniques relevant for Point and Shoot and Digital SLR cameras.

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