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Thread: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

  1. #1
    Momo's Avatar
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    The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    I went to the zoo this weekend and bagged nearly 400 photos. While I try to follow the normal rules of composition, I often come home with stuff that just doesn't fit those standards. Especially when I am trying to take photos among 1000 screaming nose-pickers, soccer moms, and a battalion of strollers. Take a look at these two photos. I'm curious, do they work for anyone? I ask because I kinda like them... and they seem to break the rule of thirds. In fact, the jaguar's face is almost dead centered. But, I do like the "peering through the jungle" feel. I tried to do a square crop of the gray wolf, but there is something about a square image that seems strange to me.

    So, what do you guys think of these images in the way the subject is centered and not following those golden suggestions of thirds?

    The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    Actually, just for kicks, here is a squared up gray wolf.

    The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

  2. #2

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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    I certainly like the first, rules are made to be broken anyway. I like the third over the second picture as it gives a space to the direction he is looking (or she) and the second one has a branch in the upper right.

  3. #3

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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    I love the third one! would be the first one except for the leafy green stuff on right.

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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    Darren, good shots. I think on the first I would go square crop bias to the right and on the other I might give just a bit more room to his back side by cropping for an 8x10, having said that I am not sure I would like it better than #3. Just an option. Rules....well more like guides I think although they do work best most times.

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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    Hi Darren, well done. For my two cents worth: #3 has the best composition and coincidentally a rule of thirds applies. I find with a single stationary animal a square crop and rule works for me. If the subject is centre I feel it should be balanced on either side and facing like a portrait. Having said that wildlife is a tricky subject and each image should be judged on its merit, foliage does not move out of the way. I'd rather have an image in the bag than not have one at all.

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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    I think the top two are not so much affected by the centre crop, but by the fact the animals do not have extra space to look into. Perhaps a looking at camera center crop would work better?
    I like the third, I took hundreds of pics at a wolf sanctuary and so many (nearly all?) were rubbish!

  7. #7
    Momo's Avatar
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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    Wow... thanks lot everyone for all the constructive comments. I'm starting to like #3 as well. I really need to work on composition with fast moving wildlife. Either that, or I go out and get a Nikon D800 with enough MP to crop my way out of a mess. LOL

  8. #8
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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    I say forget the rules, its your photo and if we all took the same photo using the same theory it would be pretty boring. Anyway they are not rules, they are guidelines. The jaguar shot looks great because it could be anywhere and doesnt look to be captive.

  9. #9
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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    The important goal is to get a compelling image that sturs the interest and emotion of the viewer, Darren. If the composition just isn't working for you then see if the problem can be solved by applying one or more rules. You still need to learn what works and why but you don't want to be shackled to any fixed rules for every photographic opportunity you encounter.

  10. #10
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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    The way I see it, there are certain compositions that just stand out and elicit a visually "Whoa!" response like you see here about #3. In a feeble attempt to try to explain it… instead of coming up with something flexible like "The Momo Third" or "The Third Concept" some grammatically uninspired individual actually came up with "the RULE of thirds". Im sure we can all come up with a much better definition that does not give the impression that its something that is set in stone.

    While I like #1, I think it might be a bit more visually pleasing for most people if there was more space on the right side and it was cropped according to the momo effect (for lack of a better word!). However, if this is something you want to frame on your wall, whichever crop or composition that tickles your mind is good!

  11. #11
    Momo's Avatar
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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    cropped according to the momo effect
    ROFL

    "I made this photo with my new interchangeable lens Momo. You guys have one yet"

  12. #12

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    Re: The "suggestion of thirds" - or not?

    I agree re the third (cropped) shot... a lovely image that really works (and you don't need a D800 - this works... though you might still want one! )

    Tim Parkin has an interesting article on the "Rule of Thirds" - including it's history - here

    I wouldn't have thought the Rule (guideline) would apply so much to portraits and wildlife as to landscapes anyway, would it?
    Ian

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