As a fine-art photographer for the past nineteen years I've come up against my fair share of
technological challenges in photography. The shift from film to digital was monumental!
In this blog I'd like to share with you what I've found to be some of the most useful PhotoShop
techniques when working with my digital images. I hope that they will make your life a bit easier
as you work with your images. Have fun!

Welcome to my "Photoshop Tips for Photographers" Blog

Please Note: These tips have been prepared using Photoshop CS3.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rule of Thirds

According to Wikipedia: The rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section. The main reason for observing the rule of thirds is to discourage placement of the subject at the center, or prevent a horizon from appearing to divide the picture in half.

I have found that applying this Rule of Thirds, either consciously or subconsciously to my images, really does improve the composition. Again I quote from Wikipedia (because they really do say it best): The rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject would.

For this Tips Lesson I would like show you how to create Rule of Thirds guides in Photoshop that you can turn on and off so that you can check every one of your images to see if it complies with this compositional "rule". I think that if you pay more attention to this you will find that your image also will have more energy and interest. I know mine do!

Here we go: (Click on any image to enlarge)
  1. Open an image in Photoshop.
  2. Under the Photoshop Menu choose Preferences>Guides, Grids and Slices.
  3. In the Preferences Dialog Box, in the GRID section, set your Gridline to 33.3 percent. I changed the color of my gridlines to green. I just felt that green would show up better. But you can change this color to whatever you like or leave it at the default. Make sure that your Subdivisions section is set to 1. Click OK.
  4. Now when you go back to your image in PS go to the View Menu, Choose Show>Grid. This is how you can turn your Rule of Thirds Gridlines on and off. 
  5. Practice this with a few different images to see how it applies to each and then you decide which look compositionally "correct".