…the Rule of Thirds


There are those who say that rules are made to be broken.  I suppose there is some truth to that….but many rules are there to keep us safe (like speed limits, stop signs, not running with scissors, not putting beans in our ears, etc.).  So, discretion is advised and a word to the wise is sufficient.

There are so-called “rules” to help you take better pictures.  One of them is the “rule of thirds”.  The basic idea here is to NOT put the main subject of your photo directly in the center.  This is true especially when your subject is looking somewhere toward the right or left, or when they are moving toward one side of the frame.  In such cases, the pros suggest that you utilize the rule of thirds to get a more interesting photo.  If, for example, the subject of your photo is moving from the left to right, put them one third of the way into the frame from the left (leaving room for them, at least in the mind’s eye, to move further toward the right), OR, if you want to show trailing blue behind your subject by panning the camera with the action as you take the photo, you may wish to place them one-third of the way in from the right edge (of course, to get a panning effect, you have to pan your camera in the direction of motion and possibly use a slower shutter speed, too.)

Today’s photo is an example.  This young woman (who I got to shoot in a studio!) is not looking to the left, but by placing her about a third of the way into the frame from the right hand side, the composition is more interesting than if she were in the middle.  At least, I think so, and the rule of thirds would say so.  This is one of those rules, however, that is meant to be broken – a least, if you do, you’re not likely to break a leg or get hurt in any way.

Photography should be fun – doggone it!  I encourage you, however, to try experimenting with this rule.  Simply imagine that your viewfinder is divided up into 9 squares by three vertical and horizontal lines.  Put the main point of focus at the vertical line to to the left or right, or the horizontal line a third of the way from the top or bottom.  Play with it.  With digital, it costs you nothing.  Shoot a few with the rule of thirds and some without it – with your subject in the center.  See what you like and learn when you do like the rule of thirds.

Go ahead!  Break a rule or two – but not your leg!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1944, Adolf Hitler took to the airwaves to announce that the attempt on his life had failed and that “accounts will be settled.”

Hitler had survived the bomb blast that was meant to take his life. He had suffered punctured eardrums, some burns and minor wounds, but nothing that would keep him from keeping control of the government and finding the rebels. In fact, the coup d’etat that was to accompany the assassination of Hitler was put down in a mere 11 1/2 hours. In Berlin, Army Major Otto Remer, believed to be apolitical by the conspirators and willing to carry out any orders given him, was told that the Fuhrer was dead and that he, Remer, was to arrest Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda. But Goebbels had other news for Remer – Hitler was alive. And he proved it, by getting the leader on the phone (the rebels had forgotten to cut the phone lines). Hitler then gave Remer direct orders to put down any army rebellion and to follow only his orders or those of Goebbels or Himmler. Remer let Goebbels go. The SS then snapped into action, arriving in Berlin, now in chaos, just in time to convince many high German officers to remain loyal to Hitler.

Arrests, torture sessions, executions, and suicides followed. Count Claus von Stauffenberg, the man who actually planted the explosive in the room with Hitler and who had insisted to his co-conspirators that “the explosion was as if a 15-millimeter shell had hit. No one in that room can still be alive.” But it was Stauffenberg who would not be alive for much longer; he was shot dead the very day of the attempt by a pro-Hitler officer. The plot was completely undone.

Now Hitler had to restore calm and confidence to the German civilian population. At 1 a.m., July 21, Hitler’s voice broke through the radio airwaves: “I am unhurt and well…. A very small clique of ambitious, irresponsible…and stupid officers had concocted a plot to eliminate me… It is a gang of criminal elements which will be destroyed without mercy. I therefore give orders now that no military authority…is to obey orders from this crew of usurpers… This time we shall settle account with them in the manner to which we National Socialists are accustomed.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In Germany, Heiligabend, or Christmas Eve, is said to be a magical time when the pure in heart can hear animals talking.


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