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Om-D & the Rule of Thirds

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by marklikesit, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. marklikesit

    marklikesit Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Aug 8, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Mark Soon
    Hi guys.

    Just wondering, there's no rule of thirds grid for the EM-5, so which grid do most of you use for setting up good compositions?

    I am on the default grid which has a lot more lines and I have to estimate where the power points are (somewhere between those lines).

    Any tips?
     
  2. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    They have a grid based on the golden mean proportions which looks a bit like a rule of thirds grid except the lines are a little closer to the centre than thirds, a bit under 2/5 of the way from each side. The "rule of thirds" is actually a slightly simpler approach based on the golden mean which is what a lot of the great artists used in the days before photography.

    Anyway, that's the grid I use. If you want thirds, just place your composition point a bit closer to the edge of the frame than the golden mean grid indicates and you'll be very close, or use the golden mean instead.
     
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  3. jeffg53

    jeffg53 Mu-43 Veteran

    270
    Aug 22, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Jeff Grant
    Aren't rules meant to be broken? I go with whatever works. Maybe that' explains my keeper rate.
     
  4. marklikesit

    marklikesit Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Aug 8, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Mark Soon
    Thanks guys. I just haven't found any good guides to using the golden mean in photography yet. Have to start looking into it I guess since there is no thirds grid.

    I've seen the golden means grid but What does the first grid do? The one with lots of horizontal lines?
     
  5. The grids are useful for keeping your horizon level or to ensure that you are perfectly square to your subject. I only use them as a technical aid, not a creative aid.
     
  6. CUB

    CUB Mu-43 Veteran

    275
    Apr 19, 2012

    The "rule" of thirds is intended for use by people who don't have a clue about composition. It is little more than a reminder to locate the main subject somewhere other than the dead centre of the frame to avoid boring images.

    Sadly, the result of over-using this "rule" is that images taken by R-O-T aficionados look every bit as boring as those with the main subject located dead centre.

    However, the Golden Mean, or Golden Section, has a sound basis, having been meticulously researched by Renaissance artists, especially landscape painters. Either of the two horizontal Golden Sections is a good place to locate the horizon in a landscape shot. Whether it works as well with the lateral positioning of a main subject is moot.

    Apart from the Golden Section for landscapes, I don't follow any externally imposed "rules". I change camera position and focal length to get the look I want, then I fire the shutter. Over time, you get used to what works, and what doesn't, and develop your own shooting style around what worked before in a comparable situation. Or try something different - there are no "rules".
     
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  7. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I think there's a tendency for a lot of people, when they first hear of something like the "rule" of thirds to actually regard it as a rule, something to be followed and which will deliver the best composition. Sadly that often doesn't work out.

    The rules of composition don't tell you what to do in order to make a good photo. They actually describe things which were significant compositional features of images that did work, and they were discovered by observation, by examination of images that worked. There's a lot of different rules and no great image follows them all, in fact some are simply contradictory. You can't, for example, follow one of the rules for a symmetrical composition while also following one of the rules for an asymmetric composition.

    What the rules can give you is a lot of ideas on how to arrange things in an image but it's then up to you to decide which idea you're going to follow and then whether or not you're going to follow it exactly or "fudge it" in some way.

    It's important to remember that the great images came first, that some observant people derived the rules from studying those images, and that every period in the visual arts has probably introduced at least one new rule to the list of rules simply by discovering a new way to compose an image. While that new way is likely to be called "breaking the rules" by many, I think we need to be grateful that people keep finding new ways to compose images because if they didn't, and if everyone followed the "rules", every image would be composed in exactly the same way and that would be extremely boring.

    As a guide to how to compose some images, the rule of thirds is great. As a rule for how every image should be composed it's an absolute disaster.
     
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  8. yekimrd

    yekimrd Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 14, 2012
    Cincinnati, OH
    Mikey
    I agree. If anything, my personal composition rules are: place subject off center unless you have a very strong subject, and horizons should never split an image right down the middle.

    OM-D, P7-14, mZD12, PL25, anxiously waiting for my mZD60 macro and mZD 75
     
  9. Mikefellh

    Mikefellh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    939
    Jun 7, 2012
    Toronto, Canada
    I've doe some thinking about this in the past, and since english wasn't my first language I decided to do some digging in the dictionary of the word "rule" and came up with the following definitions which could be the origin of the word "rule" in rule of thirds:

    "to mark with lines, esp. parallel straight lines, with the aid of a ruler or the like: to rule paper." "to mark out or form (a line) by this method: to rule lines on paper."

    So the "Rule" of thirds could simply mean dividing the image by "rules" or lines...to me this makes just as much sense...than being a rule or order.

    So lets start talking about the "lines of thirds"!

    In fact, whenever anyone asks about the "Rule of thirds" in future I'm going to tell this story, that it isn't actually a rule that needs to be followed, but is in fact about dividing the image into rules, or lines!
     
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  10. rhoydotp

    rhoydotp Mu-43 Top Veteran

    609
    Aug 5, 2012
    Toronto, Ont
    rpamparo
    well said :thumbup:
     
  11. marklikesit

    marklikesit Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Aug 8, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Mark Soon
    Thanks guys. Very interesting discussion here.
     
  12. Pim

    Pim Mu-43 Regular

    To paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow: It is not really a rule, it is more of a guideline...:)
     
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  13. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    awfully sweeping statement... what has the rule of thirds ever done to you!!

    golden section/ rule of thirds both fulfil the same purpose in that they give a gentle hint on how to compose a image in a way that is accessible by the majority of viewers.

    don't pretend that one has any more validity over the other... they both in general terms to equate to the same thing

    they are not the only way to compose an image... as has been stated, rules are there to be broken... but an understanding of the rules is not a bad thing

    personally i consciously and unconsciously compose to the rule of thirds

    look at my pictures and tell me that rule of thirds is just for people who 'dont have a clue about composition'

    that phrase was the one that prompted to me to reply to your mildly arrogant post

    peace

    K
     
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  14. jeffg53

    jeffg53 Mu-43 Veteran

    270
    Aug 22, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Jeff Grant
  15. CUB

    CUB Mu-43 Veteran

    275
    Apr 19, 2012

    Which of your hundreds (or it it thousands?) of self-portraits are you referring to?

    I don't think I have ever taken a self-portrait. When there are far too many more interesting and better-looking people than myself to photograph, I see no need to waste any frames on me, me, me and me.

    Peace, brother. :wink:
     
  16. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    When I was first learning photography a old timer mentor said this to me about composition - "If it looks good to you then the composition is good for you!"

    There are photos and works of art that I have seen that fit the "rules" perfectly and I hate them. There are also pictures that broke the rules and I love them. I use the thirds rule a lot when framing for video but when I shot photography I usually use the triangle rule more. I do it without a grid or guide, I let my eye guide me. Since you are shooting digital try the same shoot with several compositions and then keep the one that looks best, I sometimes do that.

    Here is a link to more on the triangle rule.
    Photography Composition: Shape
     
  17. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    ....so I am dull, ugly AND vain....thanks!

    I can see why your career in the Diplomatic Corps didn't pan out then !

    Lets get back to discussing photography and composition

    K
     
  18. CUB

    CUB Mu-43 Veteran

    275
    Apr 19, 2012

    Too right. :wink: