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Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule Of Thirds

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“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule Of Thirds - A Pigeon's Life

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule Of Thirds – A Columbidae’s Life (Pigeon/Dove)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds - A Woodpecker on an Oak tree

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds – A Woodpecker on an Oak tree

The rule of thirds states than an image is most pleasing when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds — both vertically and horizontally. Wikipedia

Ever look at a picture and feel that something is out of kilter in it? Ever look at your life and feel that inner turmoil when something isn’t working? It’s the Rule of Thirds dancing before your eyes and making your brain go … uh uh! In essence, the rule of thirds is about creating balance and clarity in whatever we do; including photography. This week’s photo challenge has us looking at the Rule of Thirds and how it impacts our photographs. One thing I learned from reading about it is that taking a photo with the subject smack in the center is both boring and predictable. Some even say – bad, but I won’t go there. What I love about the articles I read on the subject is that (see this), it is a skill that becomes intuitive over time.

Pigeons and doves constitute the bird clade Columbidae, that includes about 310 species. In general, the terms “dove” and “pigeon” are used somewhat interchangeably. Pigeon is a French word that derives from the Latin pipio, for a “peeping” chick,[1] while dove is a Germanic word that refers to the bird’s diving flight.[2] In ornithological practice, “dove” tends to be used for smaller species and “pigeon” for larger ones, but this is in no way consistently applied…

Okay, so I’d like to address a great point that came up. I called the bird above a pigeon. A reader called it a dove. Wikipedia informed us that the term is interchangeable. To avoid future confusion, feel free to call it a Columbidae. The Columbidae (pigeon to me) in the first shot was observing some little birds playing when I took this shot. Pigeons are great candidates for bird shots because they don’t fly away, so readily, and they do stare back. The Woodpecker in the second half above arrived today. I’m told that their presence augurs the coming of spring. Thank God! I’ll be glad to see the snow go. I love feeding the birds and because I put food in my bird feeders regularly, I have families of birds that winter near my home. Even though they land on the porch and hang out most of the day, most of them are still finicky and flee whenever they sense movement nearby. Over the years, I’ve taken tons of good and really bad pictures of them because I have to do it behind double pane windows. It’s harder to do in the winter because of the glare and the haze that seems to cast a fog over everything. That said, I hope you’ll enjoy my examples of the Rule and the Bokeh that appeared on them. More on that below.

“The rule of thirds is a powerful compositional technique for making photos more interesting and dynamic. It’s also perhaps one of the most well-known”. Cambridge in Colour

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds - A Bluejay visits

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds – A Bluejay visits

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds - A Cardinal in the snow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds – A Cardinal in the snow

In photography, bokeh (Originally /ˈboʊkɛ/, /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay — also sometimes pronounced as /ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə, Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light” Wikipedia.

If you take a close look at my first photo, and the bluejay shot above, you will see what looks like circles of white light in the blurred part of the photographs. These are what they refer to as Bokeh and they are seen as a desirable way to blur the out of focus parts of an image with our lens. There are tips on how to increase the possibility of such a blur and, frankly, they do occur a bit more naturally when we focus our lens very closely on a specific object in a sea of objects. As you can see in my other shots, it doesn’t always happen and you can take photos that don’t end up producing Bokeh. I like the softness that it adds to images and would practice more on how it works.

I was happy to see the birds that visited me this weekend. The Cardinal is an incredibly alert and anxious bird. Their bright shades-of-red plumes make them a natural target so, they jump around a lot and are quite skittish.  I took a ton of photos before I got this one. I have a few better ones but this works for the current assignment. If you look closely, there is another bird hiding in the shrubbery to your far right. As I write this post, it’s snowing again outside. It’s beautiful to look at I agree but, trust me, it makes getting about quite challenging. The birds have clustered close together, and I’m making sure to put extra food out for them and the squirrels. I haven’t seen the deer for a while. Hopefully, they will return to hang out in the backyard as they always do. Do you feed any wildlife near your home?

More Below!
And to give the utmost force and solidity to your work, some part of the picture should be as light, and some as dark as possible : These two extremes are then to be harmonized and reconciled to each other.” (Reynolds’ Annot. on Du Fresnoy).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds - A Squirrel feeding on birdseed

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds – A Squirrel feeding on birdseed

Two distinct, equal lights, should never appear in the same picture : One should be principal, and the rest sub-ordinate, both in dimension and degree : Unequal parts and gradations lead the attention easily from part to part, while parts of equal appearance hold it awkwardly suspended, as if unable to determine which of those parts is to be considered as the subordinate… Cambridge in Colour

I put food out in feeders and then some extra birdseed on the railings. I do this because the big birds and squirrels always show up when the feeders are filled. If I forget to leave extra seeds out for them, they throw themselves against the feeders to knock them down. By putting extra food out, it keeps them occupied for a while.  Our cat doesn’t like it when aggressive squirrels show up, and he throws himself against the glass windows to chase them away. LOL! Some of the squirrels are gentle and he’s made friends with a few of the gentle ones. Tangy adores the birds and sits by the balcony door for hours watching them eat and play.  Now you know another hobby of mine.  Hope you enjoyed this week’s serving. Do share your thoughts below! Thank you!

My fellow bloggers were equally creative with their selections. Check out how others interpreted the theme below.

This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Daily Post: Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule Of Thirds For this week’s photo challenge, choose a subject, then intentionally re-compose your image to obey the Rule of Thirds. You can go a step further and experiment with your camera settings to see how to get lovely bokeh. Hint: start with a low aperture setting by choosing the lowest number that your aperture will go to (most likely 3.5 or lower), or simply set your camera to aperture priority mode, usually designated by an “A”.

Positive Motivation Tip: The rule of thirds is very much like life. Go look for that place of balance and clarity and then focus your attention on it…

More Weekly Photo Challenge Posts

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos from my Personal Collection.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

42 Comments leave one →
  1. 21/02/2015 2:41 pm

    These photos are so good, and you nailed the bokeh; I love the little squirrel having a good feed.
    I always have trouble getting the blur in the background, will have to keep practicing!

  2. 21/02/2015 5:27 pm


  3. 21/02/2015 6:06 pm

    Very nice compositions. Birds are wonderful creatures.

  4. 3sonshavei permalink
    21/02/2015 6:06 pm

    My son is obsessed with the squirrels in our yard and they are starting to return for the season!

  5. 21/02/2015 7:35 pm

    Great shots of” the birds that you captured in thirds.” If I may be rude or just correct something, the first pic is not a pigeon but a dove. And it’s a pretty one too. Nice work.

    • 23/02/2015 10:34 am

      You know, I’ve had that conversation before and it’s been a back and forth discussion. As I looked it up, the term is interchangeable as they belong to a family of birds called – Columbidae. Since you brought it up, I will add a note to give everyone a chance to learn about it. Thank you very much! Appreciated. 🙂

  6. Mrs. Jilly Fisher permalink
    21/02/2015 8:52 pm

    I love bluejays. I used to watch them as a kids all the time. Brings back a lot of memories. =-)

  7. 21/02/2015 9:56 pm

    love some of these – that squirrel 🙂

  8. Gladys Parker permalink
    21/02/2015 11:11 pm

    I am an absolute beginner although I’ve taken baby shots forever. Thanks for the read. I found it while retweeting. I believe I learned some from the rule of thirds.

  9. Megan Elford permalink
    22/02/2015 3:26 am

    These are great photos! My favourite is the blue jay pic, but then, I’m partial to blue jays! I’ve been taking all of my photos lately with my phone, and I’ve really started to miss the thought and composition that happens when you’re using a real camera. The next time I’m using it, I’ll put these tips to use too!

    • 23/02/2015 10:18 am

      Megan Yes! I was doing the same thing until I visited a blog last week and the blogger was talking about how wonderful it is to take DSLR shots and use different lenses. A light-bulb lit up as I realized that I had allowed the quick ease of my phone to subvert my use of my DSLR camera. I whipped it out for this exercise, played with 2 different lenses, and plan to start using it again as before. 🙂

  10. 22/02/2015 3:29 am

    What a great photography tip. Using this rule really make photos more interesting to look at and enjoy taking.

  11. katrinagehman permalink
    22/02/2015 11:56 am

    I love woodpeckers but i don’t like to hear them lol. they are pretty cool though.

  12. Mystic_Kitchen permalink
    22/02/2015 1:43 pm

    Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Ben Butler permalink
    22/02/2015 3:15 pm

    Thanks so much for this! My photos are always so terrible. Even when they’re crispy, they just don’t work. Now I know why. This is awesome.

  14. Masshole Mommy permalink
    22/02/2015 3:41 pm

    I think the rule of thirds definitely makes photos more stunning. I think the rule of 3rd applies to everything, though.

    • 22/02/2015 4:06 pm

      I agree. It applies to a lot more in life and to photography. It’s really about creating clarity and balance in everything we do.

  15. 22/02/2015 4:37 pm

    You have good photos here. The woodpecker made me laugh. We have one who tears up our house annually, the one great thing about winter is it’s a season where he doesn’t come around. 😉

    • 23/02/2015 10:15 am

      Until the early winds of spring start blowing. So I was pleased to see him. This picture was taken last week. Yep!!! 🙂

  16. 22/02/2015 5:31 pm

    I like the photos and tips included for the, and most especially, your positive motivation tip 🙂 Fun to think about “bokeh” for photographs now too…

    Until this challenge, I did not realize there was a word for this. And of Japanese origin, just like “umami”. Isn’t it wonderful how 1 word in certain languages capture so much?

    • 23/02/2015 10:12 am

      Exactly. I’m with you on this one. I had no idea those bubbly circles had a name and was even considered a technique. I’m learning so much from the photography challenge. 🙂

  17. Ann Bacciaglia permalink
    22/02/2015 6:57 pm

    These are amazing photos. Birds are so fun to see. I love to take photos of them.

  18. maggiesblog2 permalink
    22/02/2015 7:04 pm

    I love the cardinal and the squirrel! Two of my favorite animals!

  19. 22/02/2015 7:38 pm

    What beautiful shots of nature! Thanks for sharing the rule of two thirds, it really does make the photographs more stunning!

  20. mommywonders permalink
    22/02/2015 8:07 pm

    I never knew the rule of thirds!! I wish I would have seen this this weekend. We had our once a year snow in Virginia, and I wanted to take great pictures of kids! Maybe next year! 🙂

  21. 22/02/2015 8:15 pm

    These are amazing pictures! I love how you caught the animals like this in their own element.

  22. 22/02/2015 9:51 pm

    That was a rare shot, The Woodpecker looks so adorable. Glad you shared this. If only I can see them in person.

  23. 23/02/2015 4:42 am

    Great post and so true. I love how you used these photos to go along with your post. Great photos by the way. =)

  24. 23/02/2015 5:54 am

    My goodness, these are so cute & beautiful. My husband loves photography & he has the habit of shooting nature, birds & animals whenever we go for an outing. That Squirrel picture is absolutely amazing.

  25. 23/02/2015 7:39 am

    I remember my photography teacher talking about this high school. Thank you for the reminder as I’m getting my DSLR soon and will be back to square one with photography.

  26. writeanne permalink
    23/02/2015 9:01 am

    What beautiful photos. I love the red cardinal especially. I hadn’t heard of the rule of thirds. I’m going to give it a try.

  27. Beth Williams permalink
    23/02/2015 10:18 am

    The rule of thirds is definitely all photographers should know, as it add a lot of dimension to photos. However, it’s also okay to break this rule 😉

  28. 23/02/2015 7:02 pm

    This is a big one we always learn in photo classes! I love these images.

  29. Cherri Megasko permalink
    24/02/2015 12:56 pm

    I love birds … and squirrels. Instead of chasing our squirrels away or trying to outsmart them, we just feed them, too. They are quite entertaining to watch.


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