Five Shots: Thinking in Thirds

Three furry Cacti
Three furry Cacti

I cannot paint, but I can nurture my artistic eye via photography by placing objects utilizing the theory of thirds.  Using the customary 9 square grid pattern and thinking about perspective invented during the Renaissance period (thanks, Filippo Brunelleschi ), I find I often point and shoot with the number 3 in my head. Here are five + five shots capturing thirds:

Monsoon Sunset

In Monsoon Sunset, the pink is sandwiched by the dark.

Bruised Sky

Bruised Sky might contain four layers with that band of green at the bottom, but if I classify the shot as sky, storm, and ground, and if you notice that the layers are obtuse triangles, then it works.

Devil’s Bridge Perspective

Lots of perspectives found on this hike in Sedona. There are three layers working here– sky, plateau, and ground.

Peach Blossoms
Peach Blossoms

Do you think this is a bad shot? Even though the gorgeous blossoms in the foreground demand your attention, your eye travels up to a blurry middle and clouds out of focus. Is that to be expected? It’s hard to capture peach blossom explosions like this.

pineapple blossoms
pineapple blossoms

The focal point is not in the middle of the picture which follows the grid pattern of thirds.

Pointing Tree on the Mogollon Rim

Today, a section of the beautiful Rim is on fire. How sad to see the aftermath of a forest fire! My prayers go to the brave fighters and pray no one gets hurt.

Vertical Perspective of Divine Intervention
Waking up to Infinity, Mexican Hat, UT
Waking Up, Mexican Hat, UT
Aspen Glow, Telluride, CO
Aspen Glow, Telluride, CO

Slashes of gray, white, pink.

Blue Sunrise at Mexican Hat, UT
Blue Sunrise at Mexican Hat, UT

Do you think about thirds when you take pictures? Which shot do you like best? 

47 Comments on “Five Shots: Thinking in Thirds

  1. Very professional! I love all the photos, especially “Divine Intervention,”
    “The Pointing Tree,” and “Peach Blossoms.” I had to study “The Pointing Tree” for a moment. That made it doubly interesting.

  2. I use a nine-square grid in my viewfinder at all times, and a spirit level device.
    My favourite shots here are the furry cactii, and the peach blossoms. (Which did work.)
    The Rule of Thirds is a good one to apply. It transfers nicely to all your landscape shots.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • It never occurs to me to activate the grid in my viewfinder. I’m glad you voted yes for the peach blossoms. It’s an area of weakness for me; it’s hit or miss. Thanks, Pete.

      • It’s the first thing I do now, when I get a digital camera. On film cameras, I needed to buy a replacement finder screen. Digital is much easier, in that respect. The peach blossoms were just right. Sharp blossoms, blurred background.

  3. Love them all but maybe my fave is the one called Peach Blossoms. I never think in thirds while photographing. Someone on WP pointed out to me though that I might do it subconciously because that seems beautiful to the human eye. Interesting post, Cindy!

    • Hi, there! Thank you very much for commenting. So far the shot I thought was off (Peach Blossoms) is winning the contest for best picture. 😉

  4. Lovely images you have captured here using this method, I’m not very good at taking photos, but its clear you have a good eye for what makes a good photograph. My faves are the Devil’s Bridge Perspective and Peach Blosssoms, those two are really nice, but they are all great.

  5. Lovely photographs, Cindy! It’s “Divine Intervention” for me. Keep them coming! I’ve never told you that I’m a visual artist from Manila, but very old school. And not very articulate…

    • I think you are quite articulate, Rafael. Thanks for the vote! It was hard not to be inspired by the rays of light emitting from the clouds filling the sky.

  6. Stunning shots Cindy!. I love the Monsoon Sunset and the Divine Intervention one the best 🙂

    • Ruth, thanks! Monsoon season is upon us and creates magnificent skies, full of drama and stories. I love watching the storms approaching.

  7. Some excellent photographs! I prefer the Devil’s Bridge as it has lots of different areas which all seem to fit together so well.

    • Hi John, thanks for your vote. I find my eyes are overwhelmed whenever I’m on the hike. So much space filled with interesting textures and colors.

    • A man who doesn’t follow convention. Great! 😉 We were at the Tucson Botanical Garden one day when I snapped that shot. They were curious old men standing around me, that’s for sure!

  8. I’d happily frame any of these and hang them on my wall. Although if I had to choose one, it would be Aspen Glow at Telluride, CO!

    • You’re sweet, Paul. It would be cool to buy a really nice camera; I know someone who just spent thousands for a professional camera. I believe a photographer is as good as her equipment. Much like cooking!

    • Ian, thank you for voting for the tree. His pointer reached for the space beyond the rim. I love Alligator Juniper trees. They have a life of their own and don’t act like trees.

    • That’s interesting. I’m hoping to find one in the “roll” to share, but I’m more worried about focusing in. There’s a riveting aspect to taking a shot that has me fully absorbed. It’s one of the rare times I live in the moment.

      • Oh I agree that a good focus is often crucial.
        I imagine the picture before it is taken. I want it to be pleasant to view. Many of the pictures in my blog are kind of snap shots, just to illustrate the text, but there are many others that took some effort to compose with a viewer in mind. Always the viewer, because if it was for myself, I’d rather just sit and watch the scene instead of missing so much when behind the camera 🙂

          • Thank you so much, Cindy! I enjoy your photos too. You care to think of composition and quality of the shot, and as a viewer I appreciate that.

          • I have an old Nikon D700. Before that I had Nikon D90, and before that I had a bridge Fuji. For years. I only move to another camera after I am sure I used everything my old camera offers. I don’t have a macro lens; I don’t have a telephoto lens. I don’t need them if I am not making a living by using them. I only have the lenses that are good for portraiture, and with them I take pictures of everything else 🙂 Also, many people don’t realise that their photographs are the digital material, in the first place. We should think about ourselves as the artists who are working with this digital material and create the art from it.

  9. The sky is one of my favorite choices to write about, simple but so evocative of portraits, scenes or creations. I like to imagine and add thoughts which some consider poetic, I am just writing words the picture illustrated to me. Of course, I love nature and all of its wonders. Thanks for liking my Columbine flower picture today, Cindy. I love your choices of a flowering cactus and the peach blossom photographs!

    • I have enjoyed your poems and pictures of clouds and doors. The pineapple cacti always get me. They are large barrels and on top sit a delicate (well, no, sharp as hell!) mini-pineapples. The contrasting red and yellow are alluring to me. Thanks Robin!

  10. Have you got a new camera Cindy? All of these are just stunning. Hard to pick a favourite. Devil’s Bridge is postcard worthy and I love that sunrise at Mexican Hat but it’s Aspen Glow that stood out to me. Never thought about the rule of thirds since school but what a neat way of setting of setting up your photos. Wonderfully effective in these shots Cindy.

    • Thank you, my friend! I pulled these from my photo library from 2012 – present. The ones you see are from my “old” Sony Cybershot, which I loved, because it took clear pictures most of the time. Then the memory board suddenly went haywire and it would cost more to repair it than buy a new one. I was pretty angry because it cost $350 in the first place and I had it for just over a year. I shopped around and decided to give the Sony Cybershot with a greater telephoto range since I seem to always be looking out. It doesn’t take the closer shots well and I find that the pixels get fuzzy from far away. I like it but I’m not thrilled. There’s a camera I’ve been reading up on and it seems great but it’s $700 and that just seems crazy a price tag even though I know people pay thousands for their cameras. I’ve been using my smart phone a lot and find it takes pretty clear shots. A long-winded answer! Sorry ’bout that. 🙂

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