When I purchased my Birthday digital camera last December, I thought that taking great photographs was just aiming my camera at an interesting scene and pressing the shutter button. The only rule I remember my friends telling me, was to center the subject. Just by doing that I would get masterpieces out of my light machine.
Wrong. Point-and-shoot is a myth created by camera dealers in an effort to increase their sales and fill their pockets. Even the term used for their cameras—Point-and-Shoot—is misleading and confusing. It makes you think that these cameras by themselves will let you take magic shots. I prefer the term “compact cameras”.
As I get my feet wet with photography, I’m learning that effective composition plays a big part in taking good pictures. It doesn’t matter is you have a cheap $100 or a $1,000 camera, you still have to organize your shots. By organizing your photographs I mean placing your subject correctly, so your intended message or mood will be adequately transmitted to the viewer.
This is where the Rule of Thirds comes in. The Rule of Thirds is a photographic composition technique that most if not all advanced photographers employ quite a bit. The basis of this rule is that a photograph is divided into nine equal-sized sections, with two lines vertically and two lines horizontally. The four intersections of these lines are a good guide point for where your subject should be centered. These intersections are also called power points.
These power points (and lines) also work as guides for other aspects of the photograph, for example, a horizon may look better when lined up with one of the lines. Also, when photographing people, a good use of the rule of thirds in many circumstances would be to line a person’s body up with a vertical line, and line their eyes up with a horizontal line.
This is likely one of the most important compositional techniques, as many photographers feel that a centered subject is not as interesting (in most situations). It is, however, recommended that you treat this “rule” as more of a guideline though, as there are many circumstances where a more appealing photograph can be produced without the use of this rule.
The Rule of Thirds goes all the way back to 1845, where it originated as a rule for composing scenic artwork. However the basic principles of composition go back even further. The principles behind composition date back to the artists of the Italian Renaissance and to the ancient Greeks and Romans before them.
When my friend, Michael Moore, told me about this composition technique, it was difficult for me to “see” these imaginary lines on my camera’s monitor. Later I found out, that my camera could overlay these lines on the screen .
If you have a Canon PowerShot A720 IS, this is how to use the Display Overlap option which controls the grid lines on your camera LCD monitor.
The large circular button in the middle controls the Up-Down-Left-Right menu options, much the same way a mobile phone does.
Start by clicking the Menu button below the large circular button mentioned above. This action will display several options which you can select by using the circular button. Press the down side of the button (identified with a flower icon and the letters MF), until you reach the Disp Overlay (Display Overlay) option which controls the LCD grid lines.
If the option is set to OFF, click the right button to locate the Grid Lines option and activate it by clicking the Menu button again. Remember to activate the Shooting Mode. You do this by moving the Mode Switch button located at the upper right hand corner of the camera next to the red camera icon.
Remember that photography is all about refining an image to its most basic element, and then making that element leap to the forefront of the photograph, in order to convey information or to evoke a mood or emotion. To do this you need to organize your subject, and the Rule of Thirds is a powerful tool to do. By clicking the link at the end of this post, you will see the Rule of Thirds in action.
Point-and-Shoot is a myth, be prepared and surprise us with your spectacular pictures. I’m doing my best, but still have a long way to go. Good Day.
Source: Yongbo Yiang’s Weblog