What makes us stop and look at a photograph? What’s sets a part a breathtaking picture from just a decent one? Well, as with any art form there are several principles artist rely on to take their work from ordinary to extraordinary. Three of those principles are the rule of thirds, leading lines, and depth of field.
Rule of Thirds
Description: Western Brier Island Lighthouse
Photographer: Denny Jarvis
Here we see that the photographer followed the rule of thirds by placing the lighthouse along the right line, as well as well the horizontal lines intersect. This balances the photograph and add visual interest.
Here’s one I took with my smartphone. Although it’s not professional, the same concept is added to instantly make the eye look at the shed.
As with the lighthouse, I tried to have the main elements of the shed, the window and door, be on the right vertical line and have most of the house be in between those intersections. If I had just taken a picture of the shed head on, it would not have shown it’s size relative to other objects and would not be as visually interesting.
Description: Hallway BW 2001 ISO
Photographer: Shanti Knapp
This photo illustrates the principle of leading lines having all the lines place towards the door. This pulls us in and makes or eye follow through the scene.
Here’s one eye took of a hallway at my school. The same concept is guide the eye, and I also added more black and white contrast for effect.
We can see that all the lines point towards the doors, and pulls us through the whole scene. This hallway in particular is also helped by all the cinder block, making even more leading lines throughout the picture. I only highlighted the main ones to to show how much more visual interested is added with just a few lines.
Depth of Field
Description: f/1.4-1/64sec, ISO 100
Photographer: Alexander J.E. Bradley
Choosing a subject and focusing the picture solely on that subject help that subject catch the eye. Depth is important because a picture is mostly flat, but we can give it more of a 3 dimensional feel but blurring objects in the background.
Here’s one I took, focusing on the yellow flower mostly (and using rule of thirds), and blurring out the temple in the background.
This focus helps us see the identifiable structure, but also focus on the flowers at the foreground. I also think it can be visually interesting because most picture of the temple seem to make the temple the central focus. Here we can see that the pictures has “layers,” and it’s not a flat surface. This is why depth can make such a difference in photos.
There are many tools photographers use to enhance their photographs. We can utilize these same basic concepts of the rule of thirds, leading lines and depth to find interesting ways to capture ordinary things. It’s not just the camera that makes the photographer, but how the photographer uses it to make eye-catching images.