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Cropping Rules


Center Composition

Center composition places the important thing in the middle. When it’s done well, it excels in the use of symmetry. Center composition is like roasting a chicken. It’s easy to do, but it’s hard to do really well.

Rule of Thirds

Once we learn a thing or two about composition, we start to use this. This is the first of the photographer’s “Golden Rules.” The Rule of Thirds says that an image should be divided into nine equal parts by two evenly spaced vertical and two evenly spaced horizontal lines. Important compositional elements should be along these lines or at intersections. These intersections are called “eyes.” A person’s closest eye to the camera should be placed at one of these intersections.

Golden triangles

This rule works by having strong diagonal lines pass through the image, dividing it into three (or four) triangles. The strongest line (called a major line) divides and dominates the image diagonally. Then, from one corner, an intersecting line connects to the diagonal line perpendicularly (this is called a reciprocal line).

The resulting triangles all have the same ratios – also know as golden (explained much more in depth below). This works really well on images with perspective or strong architectural elements, but it also works well when wanting the subject to fill the entire frame. Putting elements of composition on a diagonal plane gives them a more dynamic presence.

The Diagonals (Baroque and Sinister Diagonals)

 When everything in a scene must be methodically arranged and obsessed over and placed just so in the frame, we are able to begin to understand why things are placed how they are. One of the more common compositions in art (do in large part to the boom of this style during the Baroque period) is using diagonal lines.

Golden Ratio / Golden Rectangles / Golden Spiral

Classic thinkers from Plato to Pythagoras to Kepler believed that geometry is a powerful underpinning of the cosmos. Plato supposedly even said, “God geometricizes continually.” Leonardo da Vinci had an obsession with proportions – creating large areas of his work around the exact proportions of the Golden Ratio. So did Salvador Dali. As this particular rule of composition is a little complex.