The number 3 crops up quite often in the world of photography. Here are just a few examples of things that happen in three’s.
Foreground, midground, and background
When balancing images, we can not only think about the composition in terms of leading lines & horizon lines but in terms of depth. We would know this as the foreground, midground and background. Balanced images can make good use of these to create depth, story and narrative. This image of the old house is placed in the midground with the hills being the background and the grass in the foreground. We would say that his image has a deep focus as nothing is really out of focus, even though the grass near the camera is a little softer. If everything in the image was tack sharp, the foreground would be less inviting for the viewer.
3 points of interest
Sometimes repetition works very well. This is why we seeing triptychs (sets of three). This image of the seagulls is playing on the same idea but all in one frame. The image is so well balanced in terms of structure that the eye dances everywhere with little to focus on. Images like this are great in large open spaces such as living rooms, lounges and lobby spaces.
Shadows, Midtones & Highlights
When I wrote this one down I was thinking of black and white images, but when I think about it the idea does work in almost all situations. The thought goes that your brightest element should be your key point of focus in the image. For my example, the White House is clearly very dominant in the frame as it is so much brighter than anything else in the frame. A great image in my mind should have a wide tonal range reaching both good highlight and deep shadows – this is especially true with black and white photographs.
Rule of thirds
As with everything in photography, there are rules that can be pushed and played with. The rule of thirds is definitely one of them. Sometimes images work because they fit perfectly and sometimes images work because they break every rule. My thoughts are that we should know what they are and why they need to be broken from time to time. There are two images below are quite interesting to look at in terms of the ‘rule’.
The image of Holly places her just to the right of the ‘Golden Spiral’ and the ‘Golden Triangle’, which is pretty good as we mostly read images from left to right. The filled frame on the left is about one-third of the image in this aspect too. The horizon line is pretty much bang on where it should be too. Some other things to note with this image is the separation of depth from the foreground, midground and background. Holly is also the brightest element in the image in terms of contrast thinking to the highlights, mid tones and shadows.
Images don’t always have to fit all the rules. The image below of Achill Island in Ireland has a very high horizon line. The brightest part of the image is the reflection of the road, with the second brightest being the sun. It kinda works as the road is a long curve that joins the two. I still think that I can crop the image better. Let me know in the comments.
Here are some images that are fun to breakdown too
This image is using the foreground to lead the viewer into the house.
When I framed up this image, I was very much thinking of the master painter William Turner. He would very often place the sun in the lower position to either right or left of the center. He would do this to emphasize the mist, dust, contrast and colour. If you’re looking to learn about light, read up on Turner.
This image really is playing on the foreground, background story. Getting close to a subject and using a wide angle can look pretty dramatic and give that cinematic feel. The rule of thirds theory is pretty strong in this image with the model looking back in the frame. The interesting thing about this image is the very dominant backlight. Normally the person in the image would have the ‘key’ light but in this instance, the backlight is providing an awesome flare that would be lost if we lit the model from the form – it would kill all the atmosphere.
This image is a great example of strong contrast in colour. The white jacket really pops Jodi out and the monochomtic colour grading really pops the white markings and walls.
Working with strong shapes and the magic number of three and produce interesting images that break all other rules
This image is a really good example of a range in contrast and a strong horizon line that give the sky room to be an element in its own right.