Rule of Thirds: An Easy How To Guide For Nature Photography Beginners

What is The Rule of Thirds?

The rule of thirds is a compositional rule of thumb that can be applied to visual arts such as painting, photography, and design and has been used as a measure of composition since the 1970s.

The rule of thirds is an easy way to create exciting compositions in your photos.

It involves dividing your frame into nine equal parts by placing three lines across the image’s top, bottom, and sides.

The rule of thirds is an easy way to improve your photography skills.

It helps you create more interesting images by placing subjects on the edges or corners of the frame.

For the sake of this article, we will briefly discuss the importance of composition in photography before proceeding to the rule of thirds application.

The Relevance of Photographic Composition Rules to Nature Photography

All types of photography rely on solid composition to deliver a compelling image.

Nature photographers must learn about the basic elements of composition and what their vision is for their compositional goals.

Composition is mostly subjective, and there will be some steep learning curves along the way.

Views differ on the best composition approaches to nature photography, and composition is a personal preference.

Opinions on what works and does not work are often debated.

A strong composition that applies the rule of thirds creates an attention-grabbing image.

The path to mastering photographic composition is a challenge to our introspective and creative faculties.

Therefore it is not always necessary to apply rules to creative procedures, but if rules help you achieve your composition goals, then apply them by all means.

Lets us consider some important elements of the composition further:

  • What is the rule of odds in composition?

The rule of odds is a variation of the rule of thirds and the concept of “balance in composition.”

The rule of odds is used to create a more dynamic composition.

According to the law of odds, a composition should, whenever possible, contain an odd number of components rather than an even number. Three, five, or seven objects can work.

Therefore, a picture should include five animals instead of four, and three flowers instead of two.

The rule of odds. Use an odd number of subjects as your focal point. Photo by Crowpix Media.


The probability rule takes advantage of the brain’s predisposition towards order-making.

You know, when we look at a collection of objects, we automatically desire to pair them off.

However, whether a picture has three, five, or seven things, we have a group that is difficult to organize.

One might take center stage if there are an odd number of things.

The viewer will at the very least take more time examining the image and navigating between its various components.

  • The importance of balancing elements in photographic composition

Balance is an important consideration when composing your image. It determines whether the photo is pleasing and harmonious or uncomfortable and unresolved.

Balance is achieved by placing elements of the same weight on either side of the image.

Balance and negative space, and in this image, symmetry. The thirds here are split along the horizontal lines with the 2/3s being the water in the foreground and the 1/3 being the sky. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Balance can be achieved by focusing on negative space in the photograph.

Negative space is the empty space in a photograph. Negative space is also referred to as white space.

Negative space can be made more interesting by using leading lines or adding contrast.

  • Use leading lines to improve composition

Leading lines are a great way to direct the eye.

Leading lines can be natural or man-made, straight or curved, horizontal or vertical.

Look for items in the foreground that set the primary topic up.

Foreground items might be a road, a river, a cabin, a flower field, or even the clouds.

These leading lines are likely to improve an otherwise average image significantly.

The line created by the ridge of the sand dune, the shoreline, and the footsteps that run parallel show strong lines that lead the eye into the photo and to the subject in the background. Photo by Crowpix Media.

The image below shows several leading lines that draw the viewer’s attention to the subject (the person walking along the beach).

Leading lines that point to the subject include the beach, the shoreline, the sand’s edge, and the footsteps.

Use the rule of thirds to place the subject on the line as shown in the photo above.

How to Apply The Rule of Thirds For Improved Photographic Compositions

The rule of thirds is a way to divide a frame into thirds, vertically and horizontally.

  • Divide Your Frame Into Nine Equal Parts

This will help you achieve more visually appealing images.

The Shrike is placed on the left-hand side horizontal third and at the bottom intersection.

You can use these guidelines to divide your frame into nine equal sections as shown in the photo above.

Although it may be challenging to see these lines, the majority of cameras feature a Grid View option in either the Live View or Viewfinder.

A grid can also be made visible in the image preview on the majority of cameras.

  • Place The Subject at The Intersection of Two Lines

If you’re shooting with a DSLR camera, place the subject at the intersection between the vertical and horizontal lines.

This will create three distinct areas of interest.

The Giraffe is placed on the horizontal thirds line and the road is a leading line to the subject of the photo, that being the Giraffe.

You’ll notice three main areas of interest in the photo above.

By placing these elements in the right places, you’ll ensure that the viewer focuses on them first.

You can use this technique with any type of image.

This is an easy way to add some visual interest to your photos.

Now You Can Experiment With The Rule of Thirds

First, find a photo with good composition.

Then, divide the image into nine equal parts by drawing three horizontal and three vertical lines across the middle of the picture.

Next, take note of where the main elements fall within each section.

Finally, move the subject, so it falls along one of the lines.

In Conclusion

The rule of thirds is a handy and simple composition rule that can help a photographer to create a dynamic image.

I would recommend the rule of thirds as a useful tool for beginner photographers across all genres.

The rule of thirds is an obvious and simple starting point if you have no other ideas or need some direction with your composition.

Photographers can decide as they progress how they feel about the rule of thirds and if they agree with its effectiveness for their compositional vision.

Either way, the rule of thirds has stood the test of time, and remains a popular choice for the creation of dynamic compositions, for nature photographers, and for almost all creative photography pursuits.

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