Summary from my notes on composition at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography weekend in Asheville, NC—2008
Have been familiar with the “rule of thirds” for along time and for some reason always applied it horizontally. At this meeting, they pointed out that if you apply the same rule vertically, the two groups of lines form a “tic-tac-toe” grid with a square centered in the frame.
The instructor referred to the four corners of this square as “power points”; the four areas of the photo where the eye naturally tends to look in a scene.
The upper left hand power point is the most significant. Regardless of culture and reading path (up, down, left to right, or right to left) the human brain goes to that spot first. (There is actually scientific evidence to support this comment.)
The eye is naturally attracted to the brightest, most clearly focused feature of a scene.
Triangles are the most powerful of geometric shapes in a composition. The triangle also helps to keep the viewer’s eye in the frame.
THREE is the preferred frequency for number of items in a scene, ie: three flowers arranged in a triangle.
These rules work for any subject matter whether it’s a landscape or a portrait.
Example: Portrait – eyes on upper third line hopefully near the two upper power points. The shirt, drape, blouse, etc. should form a “V” below the face so that the eye line completes a triangle.
Rules were made to be broken!