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09 - Tips on the Rule of Thirds


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With animals and birds, the rule of thirds can be a little more challenging as focus is far more important when taking a photo. A picture paints a thousand words, so here's a photo of 2 fulmars I took while walking back to Brora along the shore from Golspie. With animals and birds, their eyes must absolutely be in focus. The first thing I check when I get home is if their eyes are in focus. If they're not, into the recycle bin they go. As I shoot such big files (well over 6000 pixels wide) I get their eyes in focus by putting them in the middle of the photo. I could also use other methods, but this is the easiest for me with birds and animals as you really don't have time to be shifting focus points around or recomposing as they're always moving. So, the centre fulmar (which was the bird on the right) has his eyes in focus, and as the second bird is the same distance away from the camera I knew its eyes would be in focus as well.

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However, this is a terribly composed photo, an awful image I couldn't possibly use, so I then cropped for composition. It's important to get the thirds right. Here you can see the eyes of the middle bird are on the top third, while the eyes of the other bird are on the left third. This photo is still 3400 pixels wide, so more than big enough for professional use and printing.

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And here is the finished photo after editing. I'm very happy with this one, but it's important to get the thirds right with eyes. You might notice I also photoshopped out the foreground blurry grassy bits which spoiled the image.

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Here's another example of eyes, this time a cow at Strath Steven. Both eyes are in focus, and although the right eye isn't on the right third, it is on the top third, and although the left eye isn't on the top third, it is on the left third. Sometimes you have to balance them like this to make the image work. But yes, eyes really must be in focus.

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And here is the finished photo. I had a good day!

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Here is a much easier one, a chaffinch in a tree on the banks of Golspie Burn. The spring colours in this image are amazing. In the first image you can see the crop. In the original photo the bird was bang in the centre of the image so I could make sure his eye was in focus. In the crop, the bird's eye is on the cross hairs of the top and left third. I chose the left third so he is looking into the image, not out of it.

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And here is my finished version. I love this photo, one of my favourites from this year so far.

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