2017 PHOTOCHALLENGE, WEEK 4: Rule of Thirds / Toys & Games

I’m very excited to join the PhotoChallenge team! My theme for this year is “Composition and Technique”, which will focus on some of the fundamentals of photography. I hope that the challenges will be enjoyable for beginners and advanced photographers alike. To that end, if anyone has any suggestions or feedback, I’m happy to listen!

This week’s topic is the Rule of Thirds. In a nutshell, the Rule of Thirds suggests that you should place your subject off-center (approximately 1/3 from any corner or edge), which results in a balanced, pleasing composition. Let’s dive in to some examples:

crop_coffeeSteaming Coffee – Eric Minbiole

The images above show the same subject, with two different compositions: The upper image has the coffee cup in the center of the image. Note that the composition seems a bit awkward– the steam is cut off on the top, and there’s too much empty space at the bottom. In contrast, the lower image follows the Rule of Thirds, and feels much more balanced: The steam has plenty of space to rise, and the overall image has a more pleasing composition.

Another benefit of the Rule of Thirds is that it can help clarify the subject, especially in case of a landscape shot:


The upper image shows a centered horizon. While the water and the sky are both reasonably interesting, it’s hard to tell which is the intended subject of the photo, as both are given the same amount of space in the image. In contrast, the lower image better follows the Rule of Thirds, placing the horizon at the lower third of the image. This helps make it more clear that the sky and clouds are the main focus of the image, since they are given a larger portion (2/3) of the space.


Longwood Home – Eric Minbiole

Certainly, the Rule of Thirds is not a hard and fast rule. Just like any rule of thumb, there are plenty of times that you can (and should) break it. However, it’s often a very good starting point when composing a subject, and is a technique that every photographer should at least be familiar with. As such, this week’s challenge is to create a photograph that follows the Rule of Thirds.

Optional Twist: Each week, I’ll add an optional twist to the challenge. As the name implies, these are completely optional, and are intended for those looking for a bit of extra difficulty. (Some twists may be harder than others.) This week’s twist is “Toys and Games” — feel free to interpret this in any creative way that you like. Regardless of whether or not you follow the twist, your composition should follow the Rule of Thirds.

Get your camera, and have fun!

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be an animated still image and not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

About Eric Minbiole

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with anything technical– electronics, computers, cameras, gadgets, etc. Growing up, I loved taking things apart to see what was inside. While I couldn’t always put things back together, I loved trying to figure out how things work. Because of my love for all things technical, I pursued a degree in Electrical Engineering, and currently work as a Software Engineer. I’ve been fascinated with photography ever since borrowing my parents 110 film camera when I was young. It’s been a great hobby ever since: I love experimenting with photos, and trying new things. I especially love technical and/or trick photography. (“Gimmicks!”, as my wife jokingly calls them 😉 ) While I’m comfortable with the technical side of how to shoot, I struggle more with the artistic side of what to shoot in the first place. This is one reason I quite enjoy this group: There are fun, interesting ideas each week. I joined PhotoChallenge as a participant in 2014, and am amazed at how much this group has helped me learn. Each week, I look forward to the fun, creative challenges that Steve, Trevor, Gary, and Jeremy put together. Most importantly, the weekly challenges give me the motivation to get out there and take photos each week. (Otherwise, I suspect my camera might be gathering dust on the shelf.) As well, interacting with the fantastic members of the group– discussing suggestions, techniques, what works, what doesn’t– has been an invaluable help. I am absolutely thrilled to join the PhotoChallenge team– I’ve learned so much from the group, and hope that I can give back a little bit. If you’d like to see some of my photos, please check out my flickr page.