Fill the Frame Versus Rule of Thirds


When taking and making pictures, composing your image in a way that is compelling encompasses many “rules of composition”, including things like filling the frame, the Rule of Thirds, and Golden K, among several others. With virtually any image though, all the rules simply can’t be applied though, so it’s up to you as the photographer to decide which ones are more or less effective in defining your images.

You can help yourself immensely by looking at the works of others to see what appeals to you.  Try various styles to see which one or ones speak to your creative vision.  Here’s a perfect example of an image where both the Rule of Thirds and Filling the Frame cannot be applied:


The grind in Lightroom was hard to see, so I added emphasis to the Rule of Thirds lines to help illustrate that it’s not really adhering to that, nor am I even filling the frame. So, let’s take a look at both options.  First up, the Rule of Thirds:


What’s nice about the Rule of Thirds here is that you are immediately brought into her face, but we still don’t have a lot of detail.  The composition is also a bit cleaned up (notice the plastic cup is now effectively cropped out).  This could be a usable image to show the customer, but let’s take a look when we fill the frame:


When cropping down to this level, we get a nice full view of the person, there’s no distracting objects and really no other place to look.  We know what the subject is, we know where to look, and you can’t help but smile at the result.

Is one more effective than the other?  Maybe…but that’s where personal preference comes into play.  Different photographers will have different takes on how to crop and apply post production here. Which one do you prefer?  Take a look at each after post production without the Lightroom sidebars and see which you like better.

FillFrame RuleofThirds

Now it’s your turn – which composition works better for you, Rule of Thirds or Fill the Frame?

Which rule of composition works better?

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Most Popular Photo Editing Applications

Photo Applications

With so many options out there facing both new and established photographers, from camera types, to lenses, shooting styles, applications, and the rest, it’s amazing we have any consistency at all.  Yet, with new talent coming on the scene every day, it helps to see what trends are happening within the industry.  To that end, there’s a new poll on the blog I launched today.  What’s your primary photo editing application?  Select the option that best fits your workflow.  Join the discussion too and chime in with a comment!  Happy shooting!

Photo Applications

When do you prefer to capture your images?

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Photograph that freedom!

United States Flag

With tomorrow being the 4th of July, I will be taking the day off from blogging. I will be taking a short trip to NY to spend some time with family and close friends over the long weekend – then it’s back to SC to finish our packing and preparations for the move to Colorado.

While many others will also be traveling and spending time with family and friends, we will all no doubt be snapping away with our cameras. We’ll likely be capturing our relatives, families and friends in various activities: eating, drinking, general merriment, perhaps a baseball game, or running with sparklers, or taking in some fireworks at the local ballpark. All of these activities are just a few of the ways in which we celebrate our freedom and the establishment of our independence as the United States of America!

The United States of America has many problems that we face. Tomorrow though, we celebrate one of the best things about this country – the establishment of our freedom from the crown of England. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it. A bunch of rough-shod farmers, a few businessmen, and political thinkers, stuck up for one another and to defend our rights. Our right to own land, unobstructed from military regimes, the right to bear arms, the freedom of speech, the freedom from religious oppression, the right to choose those who we permit to govern on our behalf – and in our best interests. Yet these days, it seems our rights to freedom are gradually eroding away. Land can be taken “for the public good”, while the country is faced with economic recession and layoffs, the military-industrial complex continues to thrive, laws continue to limit our ability to defend ourselves, speech is becoming offensive and restricted, religious zealots (or aetheists) push agendas in purely subjective directions, and elections are becoing more and more of a circus, it seems we are not as free as we once were.

Before people think this is a political post, or a rant on the social and economic woes of the times (which it kind of has been thus far), rest assured: it’s not. Instead, I am suggesting that we photographers go out tomorrow, and over the course of the next month and look for examples of freedom. Capture the essence of freedom in a photograph. Think you got a good one? Then share it! I’ve set up a Flickr group to share pictures into with Canon Blogger. We’ll go for the next 30 days, so from July 4th to August 4th, the challenge is to go out and capture the essence of freedom in a photo.

Share it with the Canon Blogger Flickr group. Once the time window closes, I’ll go through all the pictures and put a slide show together here on the blog of all the images. Plus, the best shot will actually WIN something! That’s right, Canon Blogger will be hosting it’s first ever photo contest! I’ll choose what I think is the best image that captures the essence of freedom in a photo and give that lucky winner the first ever prize from Canon Blogger. Since this is a prize that is coming out of my own pockets, there are a few restrictions though (you knew there would be). Here they are:

  • All shots must be taken within the United States.
  • All shots must be taken between July 4th and August 4th 2008
  • While photo corrections are permitted, editing should be restricted to corrections (adjusting shadow and highlight details, a little dodging and burning here and there, etc.) only. No composites!
  • Be prepared to submit an original image with all exif data, no smaller than 800 px on the longest side.
  • All images must be submitted to (and remain shared in) the Canon Blogger thread titled “Photograph Freedom” on Flickr.
  • The decision of the judge (me) is final.
  • 2nd place, 3rd place, and Honorable mentions will also be noted for their images.
  • No person can submit more than 3 shots for consideration.
  • Shots included on Flicker should be no larger than 600px on the longest dimension.

So, the big question is still lurking in everyone’s minds: what’s the prize? Well, it’s not much, but the winner of the first ever contest from Canon Blogger will receive a $25 gift card to their choice of Amazon or B&H Photo!

Everyone who enters an image will be included in the slide show, but there will be only one grand prize winner. But wait a second, grand prize? You mean there’s more? That’s right! The 2nd, 3rd place and honorable mentioned photos will also receive accolades. Here’s the list of all prizes:

  1. 1st Place: $25 gift card to your choice of Amazon or B&H Photo
  2. 2nd Place: A DVD of all videos produced by CB thus far.
  3. 3rd Place: A CD of all articles written and shared here on CB to date.

All finalists will also get (Honorable Mentions included) a day of your photo (and website if you have one) promoted and highlighted on the blog. Naturally, all ownership of images stays with the shooter, except for the instances of display outlined above (the slide show and the day of recognition).

P.S.  While travelling I hopped online while on layover at DC, and saw a link to the blog coming from Hyperphocal.  Looks like they picked up my latest article I submitted, titled “Looking at Light”  It’s actually a pretty good read, even if I do say so myself.  But, since todays post was already on another topic, that article will likely be long gone by the time I get back from NY.  So, stop over to Hyperphocal today and check out the latest!  Happy holidays all and happy shooting!  (Keep watching those apertures…)