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3-D Rule of Thirds
by Ralph Clevenger


This month’s photo tips come from Ralph Clevenger and the Eclipse Photography Institute Blog. You can check out Ralph's destination workshops here.

“Here’s your assignment, create images using a wide-angle lens that illustrate what I call the 3-D rule of thirds. A landscape, cityscape, or other scene with lots of depth is necessary for this to work. By depth I mean there are subjects close to you and far away.

You all know the rule of thirds and how this two-dimensional grid looks when laid on a flat surface like a print or computer monitor. But the world is three-dimensional, so lay the grid down in your scene. Look for a foreground, middle ground, and background subject. If one area of the grid is empty or boring try re-composing or chose a different angle to photograph the scene from. Composing with the 3-D rule of thirds helps you create a sense of depth in your photographs.

1) The foreground is the key to using wide lenses effectively and applying the 3-D rule of thirds. Foregrounds can be on the side or even above you.

2 ) Choose where you focus carefully. What’s your main subject? How do the three areas within your 3-D grid work together?

3) Everything in your photograph doesn’t have to be in focus but sometimes it does. Think about how much depth of field you need, or don’t need.

4) Get real close to the subject with those wide lenses. Go ahead, push closer than you think you can!

Ralph Clevenger is the Chair of Nature Photography at the Brooks Institute of Photography and a workshop leader for the Eclipse Institute.

Ralph Clevenger grew up on the coast of North Africa and began diving in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea at the age of seven with his father. He eventually went on to study zoology and worked as a diver/biologist for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California before attending Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. Ralph went on to work as an associate photographer with renowned nature photographer George Lepp and, in 1983, was offered a teaching position at Brooks Institute. He teaches courses in nature photography, stock photography, video production, and undersea photography.

Ralph has traveled throughout the world on assignment including Australia, Chile, Antarctica, and Africa. His clients include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, MacGillivray-Freeman Films, Fox Sports Network, The Nature Conservancy, Denali National Park Wilderness Center, the National Park Service and the National Marine Sanctuary. His publication credits include Audubon, Aqua, Islands, Oceans, Outside, Orion Nature Quarterly, National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Popular Photography, Nature's Best, National Geographic Books, Smithsonian Books, Sierra Club Books, and many other national and international publications. Ralph's stock images are represented worldwide by Corbis Images. He is the author of Photographing Nature, and was the photographer for the book Alice's Garden. You can learn more about Ralph and his work by visiting his website.

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