Rule of Thirds Poll Entry

When teaching student photographers the basics of framing and composition one of the main tenets is to consider the “rule of thirds” This rule states that one should position the main focus of the image in the top, bottom, left, or right third of the frame. Basically, if you were to draw evenly spaced vertical and horizontal lines down the frame, the optimum position is where the lines intersect. This rule also indicates that the horizon should not be positioned in the top or bottom third of the frame.

In the following poll I have three images. The first one is the original which brazenly violates the rules of thirds by positioning the horizon dead center! The other two have been altered to move the horizon to the top or bottom third of the frame. My question is simple; which do you prefer? The rule breaker, or one of the rule followers. Let me know in the poll at the bottom of this post and tell me why in the comments.

Centered Horizon

Top Third

Bottom Third


22 thoughts on “Rule of Thirds Poll Entry

    • The bottom third will probably be the most popular choice, although I kind of prefer the rule breaker with the horizon in the middle…I like the balance it creates between the top and bottom.


  1. I chose top third. When I was in film school, one thing I learned was about “head room”–framing your shot of a person (as in an interview) so that you don’t have a ton of space surrounding your subject. In looking at the three pictures, the first and last ones have a lot more of the sky than I would like to see–too much head room. To me, the top third one brings out the sky without it overwhelming the rest of the photo.

    • Head room can also translate into looking room or walking room in the case of film, but these apply mostly to images where the main focus is a person. With too much head room it can look like the subject is a floating head, with not enough the subject looks cramped in the frame.


  2. I chose the rule breaker because my eye was not drawn to the horizon, but to the boy, which seemed to be closer to the bottom (just above the 1/3) than dead center. For me, the focus of the picture wasn’t far from the 1/3 line.

  3. I really like the top third because it draws your eye to the rest of the picture, which has the kids running on the platform. That, combined with the lines created by the walkway, make for an interesting picture.

  4. Wow – even though I like the sky in your picture I think I liked the top third picture the best. The pattern on the walkway and the lines really led me into the picture.

  5. Funny that the poll results are almost an even three way split. what does this say about the rule of thirds? I voted for the original image.

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