This is not intended to be an eye exam, but with this image, you should see two circles slightly darker than their surroundings. Does one stand out more than another? Most people would say the circle on the right stands out more. Why? It looks a bit darker with more defined edges, doesn’t it? But in reality, the two circles are exactly the same tone. However, the one on the left has a softer edge, making it less defined in the image.
When looking at an image, in most cases, your eye travels to two areas: the area of greatest contrast and the area of sharpest focus. The first image was easy…you have nothing else to look at but the black dot. The second image is slightly different and proves the point I just made about sharpest focus. Even though the two circles are identical in tone, your eye was drawn to the circle on the right because its edge is sharper than the other. It also proves the point about being drawn to the area of greatest contrast. Although your eyes may have seen the fuzzy circle on the left, you probably saw the one on the right first because of the sharp edge contrast against the background.
Composition includes many different variables, including the concept mentioned above, but how does one visualize a composition before getting behind the camera? As I mentioned…be observant!
Ok, let’s dive right into this, shall we?
DISCLAIMER: While some find rules to be confining, I think they are meant to be broken. I’m a strong believer in learning the rules first and then successfully breaking them all you want.
The “Rule of Thirds” is usually one of the first topics taught in a composition class and for good reason. The rule states this: divide your frame up into equal thirds of both the horizontal and vertical axis’s, like the example below, similar to a tic-tac-toe board. The areas where the vertical lines meet the horizontal (circled) are very strong compositional areas to place your subject. This exists to help you understand that centering your subject isn’t usually the best way to showcase the main point of interest. All Canon EOS cameras with the Live View feature can show this grid when Live View is turned on to help you compose your images. The grid is a feature that may be turned on or off in the menu and looks like the examples below.