I've been doing extensive research into photography, and I want to ensure that I understand the "Rule of Thirds" correctly.

So my question, to all the experts out there, is, is this photo a good example of rule-of-thirds? Can you tell what the intended subject is?

(Note: This was taken with a smartphone camera purely as a quick demonstration. So ignore the over-exposed sky :-P )

Rule-of-Thirds Sample Photo

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    \$\begingroup\$ D. Lamberts answer is spot on I think. If you're looking for examples the weekly contest has some nice ones I think. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2014 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain what aspects of your question aren't duplicated simply by the definition of the rule and then... looking to see? If your question is: "Does the rule of thirds help indicate at the firepit is intended to be the subject of this photo?", that's a distinct question and I have an answer... but I'm not sure that that's the question. (And leaving us to guess at your subject as a sort of test is not in the spirit of the site.) \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Apr 11, 2014 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I really dislike the name "rule of thirds". At best it's a guidline, but certainly no rule. Guidelines can be useful, especiall when learning, but are not substitutes for actually thinking about the composition. Also, I often find that 1/3 of the way into the picture for the part I don't want to feature is too much. Often just 10-20% sky at the top, for example, is all you want. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2014 at 21:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is not a good example of the "rule of thirds". \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Apr 13, 2014 at 0:15

2 Answers 2


As long as the subject is supposed to be the little phone-booth-monument-firepit-grill-whatever-thing in the lower right, then yes, it's a good example of the rule of thirds.

Unfortunately, it's also not a great picture.

The rule of thirds is just one compositional technique, and it works only to the extent that it supports the technical and artistic aims of the photo. In this case, the blown-out sky is somewhat distracting, but I think the bigger problem might be that the rule of thirds exists because we know our eyes are drawn to those parts of a photo, and placing our subjects along the 1/3 lines helps show off the subjects, but you've got to start with a strong subject. The rule of thirds (like other compositional techniques) helps make the most out of subjects in your photos, but it can't manufacture a subject or transform a weak subject into a strong one.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your answer (it's a fire pit by the way). As mentioned the question was not about what's in the picture, or whether it's a good exposure, purely about the positioning. \$\endgroup\$
    – SHNC
    Apr 11, 2014 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I found the subject, so it worked. ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – D. Lambert
    Apr 11, 2014 at 15:54

I don't think so.

The reason is that rule of thirds relates to the positioning of your subject, but the subject itself has to be isolated by some means - contrast, color, focus blur, motion blur - anything to make the subject, well... a subject.

In your picture I'd say the subject is the overexposed center as well as the two objects along with that. It feels like you were trying to take a picture of the field but the trees suddenly jumped in the frame


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