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Placing the elements of your photograph off-center in the frame adds interest for the viewer.

Reason: Off-center elements give the viewer's mind-and-eye room to "travel" within the frame, and make the relationship between the subject and the surroundings more dynamic. (Whereas on-center subjects often appear more static.)

The Rule of Thirds is simply a Rule of Thumb for how to place your subjects off-center.

Specifically, the Rule encourages to to you mentally divide the frame into 3 layers from top-to-bottom, and 3 layers from left-to-right. And, having done so, to place the subject(s) within the layers, or on the grid lines.

For example, in a photograph with sky, place the sky (roughly) within the upper third, or upper two-thirds of the image, rather than at the mid-point.

Since its a Rule of Thumb, the Rule does not need to be followed slavishly. For example, several of the images in this collection use the Rule from left-to-right, but top-to-bottom is divided into halves rather than thirds.

See if you can tell how the Rule of Thirds has been used in-whole or in-part in this collection of photographs.
Trinity GlenAmish FarmSmith Road HillIn God's Hands NowWinter Tree (stylized)Light at Sodus Pt, NYHeavenly EntranceBeachy Head, South Downs, EnglandBig Ben, LondonMelanie, Old Orchard Beach, MaineWells Beach, MaineLight at Port Bickerton, Nova ScotiaSainte FlavieSt. GermaineOil Rig in Wheat Field, SaskatchewanManitoba PrairieNear PeoaCow Moose, Pinedale, WyomingSpring Aspens, Wind River RangeGrand Teton National Park, Thanksgiving Morning