Some of you may remember my former column, What I Like, at Shopping Cart Disco. I have decided to revive that effort, though with a few differences. At the end of the column, I will add a gallery of 50 photos that caught my eye as well and that I considered including because it’s impossible to highlight every worthy picture.
Tyra Eiren has created a very dramatic photo. It is called Princess Warrior of China and it does seem like something out of an Ang Lee action movie. The drama is created in several ways. Her hand is forward, projecting in front of her face. It captures our attention because it lies one-third of the way across the picture, following the Rule of Thirds. You can see that her face is not directly centered in the middle of the shot. Except in rare circumstances, positioning the subject right in the center makes for a static picture. That small shift off center creates a more dynamic picture full of life and movement. You can see her hair, he kimono and the flashes of fire and sparks all radiate away from the center – another way to make the picture more dynamic. Notice as well, her sword is held at a slight angle – just one more way to create a feeling of urgency and drama. I like it.
Showcasing movement again, this wonderful photo Breakthrough, by Jule Lemondrop, is another picture where the Rule of Thirds focuses our eyes, this time on the subject.
The picture is shot at an angle so the lines of the fence and the buildings are not straight. This makes the picture more naturalistic and more effective in telling a story. The break in the fence serves as a frame within the frame and defines her as the focal point of everything. I love the pose and how precisely positions it is – and how well it tells a story.
KaKaw Denimore seems to break that rule about not centering your subject directly in the middle of the picture. However, notice how the hair is fuller on the right and the the background is filled in while on the left it’s blown out. Guess what?
If you look at the pink lines you can see that she is actually applying the Rule of Thirds, but in this case with white and black, so while her face is nearly dead center, the graphic elements of white and not white are not. Of course, the reason I like this picture so much is the liveliness in the face and expression. This is a take no prisoners woman.
Ary Lukesl creates a contemplative and quiet mood with this sepia monochromatic picture. Sepia is warm and nostalgic and so is this picture. The title is Life is like a box of chocolates, which also appeals to nostalgia. It makes us feel good. Monochromatic palettes excel at creating mood. There may be only one hue, but monochromatic pictures are not boring. That hue comes in many values from they bright clouds to his dark hair.
I am afraid I sound like a broken record about the Rule of Thirds, but notice how the bottom of the bench and the line where the sand meets the water are exactly along the bottom third. Look where he lines up in the picture. He is the focal point. That’s why she is looking up at him. I guess he has something important to ask.
Faibaia Fairey’s photo appeals to me for a lot of reasons. I love the bold styling – the bold geometry of triangles and circles, the bright colors and sharp contrasts. She actually breaks on of the “rules” of composition by having her subject look out of the frame instead of into the frame, but it works because she has that darker part of the background anchoring her and us inside. The pose suggests she is looking at someone, listening carefully and making a decision. It is a thoughtful pose – considering, judging.
I promise that not every single picture taken in the history of mankind applies the Rule of Thirds. However, it is one of the most universally used elements of composition. It is not used just in the West, but throughout the world. It is used by people who have never had any formal training and by the greatest artists of all time. Mainly it is so effective because it makes our eye move into the picture. It makes it dynamic, not static. That does not answer why it is thirds and not fifths or quarters, but I speculate (and I really mean speculate) it might have something to do with three being the highest number most people can subitize – quantify without counting. Nearly all of us begin to count at four objects. There is some magic about three for us humans. In the end, it does not matter why the Rule of Thirds works, but just that we know it does.
Now here are some of the pictures I really liked and would love to include in this column if it didn’t take me over two hours to write about five. Here’s a link to the Flickr Gallery if the slideshow below is acting stupid.