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Math in Photography: Rule of Thirds

Most of us spend time sharing our days, thoughts, and ideas online, often instantly through photos. But just because you can instantly share a photo doesn’t mean you always get the results you wanted. What if your Instagram followers don’t get your artistic vision? There’s got to be a tried and true method to taking that perfect photo (no filter needed). Let us introduce you to the Rule of Thirds.

The Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the first rules that photography students learn. You can use this rule either while you’re taking a photo or when you’re editing a photo in post-production (or on Instagram).

Take the frame of the photo, and imagine that it has been divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Most smartphones and digital cameras have a setting that allows you to see these grid lines on the screen while you’re taking a photo.

Once you have the grid in place, either on your camera viewfinder or in your mind, there are two ways to focus on the grid. The first is to focus on the four lines dividing up the frame, and to place the object you are photographing along one of these lines.

You can also focus on the four places on the grid where the lines intersect.

The basic idea behind this rule is that by placing the object of the photo–a person, building, animal–along one of the four lines in at one of the intersection points, the photo will be more balanced and pleasing to the human eye.

As with many rules, however, this one can be broken. But we want you to play around with this rule to see how it works and what cool perspectives you can get with and without the rule of thirds. Try taking a photo without using the gridlines, and then try editing it with the rule of thirds to see the difference. Share your findings with us using #mathcon2018 on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Once you’ve turned yourself into a master photographer with the power of math, show off your skills in our photo contest! The theme of the photo contest for this year is “Mathematics in Your Perspective.” For more information about eligibility and submission requirements, visit http://www.mathcon.org/photo-contest/

 

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