The Major Rules:Tools and Techniques of Photography
Rule of Thirds1. Foreground2. Middle Ground3. BackgroundThe main point of interest . Image by Trey Ratcliff.should be two thirds of theway up from the bottom ofthe photo.Photographs generallyhave three distinct areas ofinterest.
Golden SectionThe places where thehorizontal and vertical linesintersect are where pointsof interest exist, the socalled golden points.
Divide the image intothree sectionsdiagonally, from lower leftto upper right. Importantelements of the imageshould be contained by themiddle diagonal section.Lines of image are moredynamic if they aremoving diagonally.
Dominant ForegroundAny element placed in theextreme foreground of animage acts as an entry point.Provides a sense of depth andscale, acts as a visual magnetthat pulls the entire imagetogether.
PerspectiveWhere an image is taken from can be as important as how it was taken.Perspective adds interest by giving viewers a look at something from aplace they have not seen before, and what is new is interesting.
ContrastContrast is a way to control an image and determine where the audiencewill look when they view the picture. Use contrast by putting a lightsubject on a dark background, or a dark subject on a light background.Remember that large contrasts with small, and wide contrasts withnarrow.
ColorThe eye is attracted to colors that are bright, vivid, and saturated, anddrift away from colors that are dull, faded, and unsaturated. Use color tocontrol where in the image the viewers attention will be focused.
TextureTexture is a function of light.Strong, directional lightfrom one side creates textureby illuminating one side ofan object, and creatingshadows on the other side.Texture gives an image depthand detail.
FramingUsing one compositional element to frame, or emphasize another. Theframing element focuses the viewers attention on the main subject.
BackgroundThe background of a subject is anything behind it. By controlling thebackground; keeping it simple both in terms of elements, color, andtone, the viewer is directed towards the main subject.
Lines:Leading Lines, Curves and Zig-Zags Leading Lines bring the viewers eye from the entry point of the image to main subject. Curves and Zig- Zags take the viewer along the path that the artist wants them to go. Image by Pierre Metivier
Combining Techniques: Curving Lines can divide the picture into Thirds and reveal the focal point to the viewer.
Balancing ElementsPlacing your main subject off-center, as with the rule of thirds can leave a void inthe scene which can make it feel empty. You should balance the weight of yoursubject by including another object of lesser importance to fill the space. Image by Shannon Kokoska.
Symmetryand PatternsWe are surrounded bysymmetry and patterns, bothnatural and man-made. Theycan make for very eye-catching compositions. Image by Fabio Montalto