Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Three is the magic number

The subject of the newest Readers Photo Challenge is the rule of thirds. It is a compositional rule of thumb of sorts. If you divide the camera’s frame into thirds with imaginary lines, both horizontally and vertically, where those lines intersect are what is know as points of interest. Placing your subject at or near one or more of those points will help draw the eye of the viewer to that point. It is more interesting than placing your subject boringly at the center of the frame.

As I said, the rule is more of a guideline. I find that subjects of most of my own photos fall somewhere outside of those points. But the rule of thirds is a good technique to know and practice as a starting point from which to explore your own compositional style.

The rule of thirds tends to work well when you have minimalist scene with a strong subject, such as a full moon in the sky or a lone person walking on an empty beach. Conversely, it can also help to make your subject more prominent in a busy scene.

Some cameras can have the option of a rule of thirds grid in the viewfinder or on the monitor if you want to be exact, but you don’t have to be precise as long as you get close.

There are other compositional techniques such as leading lines, diagonals and symmetry, among others. But the rule of thirds is usually one of the first that one learns.

Once mastered, or at least practiced, you’ll find that applying the rule of thirds automatically, almost without thinking. They you’’l see that 3 is truly a magic number.

How to enter:

1. Email your entries to Type in “Thirds” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between March 8 and March 22.

3. Entries are limited to no more than 12 photos from each photographer.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (e.g.: “John Doe of Stockton. Location: Victory Park, Stockton. Camera: Canon Rebel T3 w/ 55-300mm lens”).

5. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos, and if they’re related to you. (e.g.: Jimmy Doe, 8, of Stockton plays in the grass at Victory Park in Stockton).

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is Thursday, March 22. A photo gallery of all the pictures submitted will be run on March 29 at


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  • Blog Author

    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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