Lens-Artists Challenge: Framing Nature in Thirds (or Not!)

This week, Tina hosts Lens-Artists Challenge #197 – The Rule of Thirds. She provides some excellent examples of how to use the rule of thirds to help with the composition of a photo. I sometimes–unintentionally–use the rule of thirds to make something in my nature photograph stand out more. As I have practiced more and read other people’s advice, I have learned that trying to place my subject strategically in the frame helps with the overall composition of it. The first photo is of a Rufous hummingbird that I captured last week in my neighborhood park. I was actually concentrating on getting the little guy in focus while slowing down my shutter speed, so the rule of thirds did not enter my mind. I tried to crop the photo a bit afterwards, placing him on the right third of photo and the red Erythrina flowers on the left third of the photo. I naturally look at the red flowers on the left first, but then I am drawn to the hummingbird, rather than just the greenery in the background.

Here is another example of cropping my photo later to apply the rule of thirds to the composition. These filter-feeding clams are more stationary and easier to frame during a photo shoot, but I still cropped it later to draw more attention to the clams’ filter feeders.

Filter-feeding clams on a beach in La Jolla, California should be left alone–they’re alive! Captured with iPhone 12 Pro Max.

In this next set of photos, I was trying to purposely use the rule of thirds to make the scene a little more interesting. I came across a part of a nearby park that had many flowers everywhere. There were these tall, white flowers that I don’t normally see. It turns out, they’re Mediterranean Acanthus mollis and highly invasive in California. I thought they looked neat, but then again, that’s probably how they ended up being planted here, not knowing how invasive their root systems can be to the surrounding wildlife. The last photo in this set does not follow the traditional rule of thirds, but I thought I would try cropping after taking the photos, to see if placing the Acanthus flowers in the middle third would draw more attention to them.

There are times when I break the traditional rule of thirds when taking photos. I love finding a scene in nature where the composition lends to the direction I want the viewer to go with their eyes. Maybe it still fits on one third of the photograph, but usually, I am not thinking of this composition rule when I’m taking the photo.

This next photo is of a giant sequoia tree. There is another grove (or what is left of one after this past wildfire) at Sequoia National Park in central California. The largest trees on earth are located in that grove and are much, much larger. The trees in my photo happen to be planted in a conservation park closer to me in southern California; they’re large, but not as big as the ones in the national park. I still wanted to show how big any sequoia tree can be, even if it is not 2,100 years old like the General Sherman tree in Sequoia National Park. In order to draw the viewer’s eye up this tall tree, I focused my lens upwards.

Giant sequoia trees planted in Oak Glen Preserve, California; captured with 50mm DSLR lens.

I also love taking photos of meandering paths. These don’t always follow the rule of thirds, either. To me, it is more important to draw the viewer’s eye down the path. Whenever I see other photos of trails or paths, it always makes me want to go walk on them and explore.

Garden path in spring at Kimberly Crest House and Gardens, California; captured with 50mm DSLR lens.

When it comes to following any kind of rules, nature does what it wants. I will crop my photos to draw the viewer in more, but sometimes, I just let nature take its own course and don’t worry about any rule of thirds.

Also for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Crooked or Squiggly and Flower of the Day, Terri’s Sunday Stills, and Dawn Miller’s Spring Festival 2022.

Published by Dawn Palmer

I am an avid nature and ecology lover and enjoy sharing my photography in my blog writings. I will often be out early in the morning or late in the evening with my camera, trying to capture the peacefulness and beauty around me.

26 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge: Framing Nature in Thirds (or Not!)

  1. Wonderful photos and compositions, Dawn! That hummer is fabulous. I’ve always loved Sequoia NP but it’s been years since I saw the General Sherman tree. For the 20+ years I lived in San Diego, those acanthi have been around for ages. I love the second of the three best 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! 😊 I haven’t been to Sequoia for a long time; I’m hoping the firefighters’ efforts saved General Sherman. 🤞🏻 Also, I’ll probably see Acanthi everywhere now when I go down to SD. 🤣


  3. Beautiful photos. I especially like the photo of life at the wrack line, with mussels and seaweed deposited at random. Your skill at making a wonderful picture out of it is superb.

    I like your experiment with the acanthus. I think it looks best when you put them in the middle third of the photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed these very much along with your thoughts on each one. One of these days when I have more time to go out and take photos I want to join one of these kinds of challenges, that cause me to “learn” how to use techniques better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed them! 😊 The photo challenges are a lot of fun. It is easier to take photos for it, but I’ve used ones from my archives. I think that is more time-consuming because I have to search through a lot. 🤓


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