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Rule of Thirds

This week, compose your subject off-center, obeying the Rule of Thirds.

A photograph of a redbud leaf in early spring, demonstrating the Rule of Thirds and beautiful bokeh, by Jen Hooks.

My preferred aesthetic in photography is a minimalist one, and I find that it is easiest to achieve this by obeying the Rule of Thirds when I compose my shot. The Rule of Thirds is a photography concept that puts the subject of the photograph off-center, which usually results in blank space in the rest of the image. If you focus closely on your subject and use a wide aperture, your photograph’s background will also be beautifully blurred in that blank space. The blurred area behind your focal point is referred to as bokeh, and when executed well, it adds depth and artistry to an otherwise simplistic photograph.

A photograph of a redbud leaf in early Spring, demonstrating the Rule of Thirds and beautiful bokeh, by <a href="http://threebirds.blog" target="new">Jen Hooks</a>.

A photograph of a redbud leaf in early Spring, demonstrating the Rule of Thirds and beautiful bokeh, by Jen Hooks.

For this week’s photo challenge, choose a subject, then intentionally re-compose your image to obey the Rule of Thirds. You can go a step further and experiment with your camera settings to see how to get lovely bokeh. Hint: start with a low aperture setting by choosing the lowest number that your aperture will go to (most likely 3.5 or lower), or simply set your camera to aperture priority mode, usually designated by an “A”.

For those of you shooting with a smartphone camera, you too can achieve a bokeh effect by bringing your phone close to your subject and selecting where you want your camera to focus. Simply compose your image in your screen, and tap your focal point.  You should see your camera autofocus on that area, and the background will fall into a blur. If it doesn’t focus, you’re a little too close. Hold your phone steady, and snap! Because of the nature of phone cameras, it won’t be as creamy of a bokeh as you would get with a traditional camera, but it will still add depth to your image.

To see phoneography bokeh in action, here’s a sample image of some yummy fig and goat cheese toast that I took with my iPhone 5s. Also note that I used the Rule of Thirds in composing that image. Have fun!

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