Tag: Photography Tips

Tutorial: Rule of thirds

w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerOne of the most well known and widely used composition techniques is the ‘Rule of Thirds‘. Originally it was used as a guide to help landscape artists in the mid-19th century, but it was quickly discovered as a handy tool for photographers as well.

Why use the ‘Rule of Thirds’?

The idea behind the Rule of Thirds is to stop the photographer putting the subject in the centre of the frame. By doing this it allows the viewer more opportunity to explore the image as a whole rather than be fixed on the central point. For this rule to apply, you simply need to imagine that your frame is divided into nine equal sections with lines crossing the horizontal and vertical areas of the image. Or to make things easier still, go to the FRAMING GUIDELINE option found on your Fujifilm camera and turn the GRID 9 option on.

It is where these lines meet that is important, you should roughly aim to place your subject matter on or near these lines. In this particular example the tree has been placed directly on one of the third lines.

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Which side?

You may also question where to place the subject in the frame. The left third or the right third of the image?

The right third of the frame is generally considered a better, safer placement of the subject matter (although this is subjective) due to the way a viewer ‘reads’ an image. Just like with books where we read left to right, we approach viewing an image in a similar manner. This means that when a viewer spots the subject of interest, they may stop exploring the rest of the image. Here is the same image simply flipped horizontally to give an idea of this effect.

Knowing the way a viewer ‘reads’ an image it can help you make creative decisions; by placing the subject on the left hand side you can create deliberate tension within your image.

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Vertical AND horizontal

rule of thirds with guides 2You may also notice that not only the subject matter is placed on a third line but also the horizon line as well. The Rule of Thirds can be very handy at producing consistently good compositions, especially in landscape photography. Our recommendation is to place the horizon on one of the third lines – which one is up to you, but here’s a tip: If the sky is more interesting, let it fill two thirds of the frame and if the ground is more interesting, let that cover two thirds of the frame instead.


2 thirds foregroundSo in this seascape image we have started to combine the elements discussed above; we have horizon placed on a third line, the seaweed sitting on the right third line and because the we wanted the foreground to be more interesting and prominent it takes up two thirds of the frame instead of the sky.



And it’s not all about landscapes either!

This rule can be applied to pretty much any type of photography, here are some examples of how it can be applied to portraiture and even action.



Keep it in mind

Keep these composition ideas in mind when looking at inspirational images – can you see them being applied?
Think consciously about your composition – it may feel unnatural the first time you try it out, but in no time at all you will be getting great results.

Before long, the Rule of Thirds will become part of your photographic toolkit – a solid starting point to let you explore for yourself and find your own style.

Until then, happy snapping! 🙂

X-Photographer’s Spotlight – V.Opoku

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?

Hey hey, I shoot weddings and travel – I am a creative, contemporary wedding story teller and London is home for the time being.

I became a photographer by accident; I went to university to study economics, it was during this time that I decided to buy a camera instead of a PS3 to kill time. I would hop on my bike for a ride and have the camera along with me to capture the things I saw in my new surroundings.

Even though I have achieve a level of consistency within my body of work, I like to think that I am still training my eyes. It is an ongoing process and I find that I switch things up every two years – not everything, but I have noted that every two years I make a change in one area or another. I guess you can say that how I feel often translates into the approach I take to the work I create, and as someone who is still young and curious about the world, I don’t think that I will ever stop developing my style.

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Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

Out of curiosity really, and after 2 years and some change, I am happy that I took the risk. They offer a unique and refreshing way of doing things – having to compensate for parallax when using the OVF due to the rangefinder design of the X-Pro 1 & X100s, or the traditional shutter speed dials & aperture values on the lenses, this is a fun way to create images. For some strange reason, the image quality that I get out of these little cameras still amazes me, and the lenses that I have used have all been stunning.

A very important element of the Fujifilm X-Series that maybe doesn’t get enough attention is the community that these cameras have created, I have exchanged emails with people from all over the world about these cameras. I have discovered the work of other amazing photographers who use these cameras and even became friends with a few, like Bradley Hanson (USA), Patrice Michellon (France), Robin Weil (France) and Fred Frognier (Belgium) for example. All these guys were complete strangers at one point.

I would love to network with other official X-Photographers too! I have exchanged words with a few but thats not enough, I am thinking along the lines of a collaboration on project or something.

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Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

There Is Always More! I think photography is a lifelong journey without a destination so we have to keep going, keep striving to improve and never settle – There Is Always More!

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Key Inspiration- What & Who inspires you?

The What – Life, all aspects of it – the good and the bad. Music, football, culture and the people I meet and exchange stories with on my travels.

The Who – Those who strive to master their craft and set new rules, e.g. Lionel Messi and Nas. In terms of photography, there are so many good photographers out there that it is difficult for me to pick one. I like to draw inspiration even from those that don’t shoot the type of stuff that I shoot.

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Do you have any tips or tricks you could share?

Create limitations in a world where is there none, mine was deciding to shoot with just two focal lengths for the majority of my work these last two years and I couldn’t be happier! In fact, deciding to shoot with just prime lenses 5 years ago was probably the best thing I could have done for my portfolio and development as a photographer.

Remain curious about the world, be willing to learn and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Shoot through the tough and uninspiring periods.

V. Opoku-7What’s next for you?

Um, the X-Pro 2 😉 – haha. I really want to live in various countries & cities around the world in the next couple of years. To explore and experience different cultures etc and even shoot some epic weddings whilst I am out there too – the thought of shooting a Japanese wedding in Tokyo one day really excites me. I will be starting this chapter of my life with a move to Barcelona at some point this year, things haven’t gone as I had hoped but I am determined to make it happen. Then from there, maybe NYC + LA for a year, Cuba too at some point, Japan – who knows. I want to explore as many places as possible and meet as many interesting people as I can.

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Contact Info

Web : vopoku.com

Twitter: @vopoku

Instagram: @vopoku

Member of X100C – The Collective : http://x100c.com

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X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Bert Stephani

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?

I’m from Belgium and recently when I turned forty, I realised I’ve been a professional photographer for ten years now. I shoot quite a wide range of subjects but it’s almost always about people. Although I’m a one man band, I feel my company has three divisions: The biggest division is my commercial photography in which I usually employ documentary techniques to capture real images for companies and agencies. Teaching is my second division. I really enjoy teaching and encouraging other photographers during workshops and video lectures. The smallest division is the one that caters to individuals, capturing weddings, family portraits, … It’s what I started my career with and it still gives me a lot of satisfaction.

As a kid, I was intrigued by the buttons and dials on my great-aunt’s camera but I didn’t give it much thought then. When I was seventeen I discovered some Time/Life books in the library. I got so intrigued by documentary and particularly war photography that I asked for an SLR for my 18th birthday. I played around with photography and developing my own film but soon photography had to make place for filmschool and writing. I rediscovered photography ten years later while I was following a Photoshop course in order to learn how to make nice DVD menus for my video work. I can still remember the moment I held my neighbour’s first DSLR and decided I wanted one too. Only a couple of months later, I decided that I wanted to become a professional photographer.

I spent all my free time (and some of the company’s time I was working for back then) to understand the world of f-stops, shutterspeeds and focal lengths to learn the craft. When bad weather and short days in the winter, forced me to learn about lighting, I discovered a whole new dimension and developed an ongoing passion for light. But after a couple of years I had become a photographer’s photographer. My work had become about the techniques, the gear and the fashion of the moment, while the pictures I really cared about where the simple, timeless, often imperfect shots of my friends and family. That was the moment that I went back to what I’ve been doing all my life: simply telling stories.


Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

Very early on in my career, I already realised that a big camera can get in the way of photography and a friend recently reminded me that I once told him: “I wish someone would find a way to put a big sensor in a small camera with a compact fast prime lens”. So I guess I pre-invented the X100 back then ;-). But it would take a couple more years before mirrorless cameras became a reality and a usable option for professional photographers. I used a number of Panasonic and Olympus mirrorless cameras for family pictures and started thinking about using a small camera for part of my professional work. Although the prospect of reducing the weight and size of my kit, got my back and neck excited, it wasn’t the main reason to consider mirrorless cameras. Much more important to me is the fact that I can shoot without attracting attention and that a smaller camera removes the barrier between me and my subjects.

My X-story started out with the X-Pro1 and just a 35mm lens, but I have to admit that we got off to a pretty stormy start the first few months. Coming from a well established high-end DSLR, it took a while to get used to the X-Pro1 in it’s first firmware version days. Although I had my share of frustrating experiences, I had to conclude that the X-Pro1 made me a better photographer and I just fell in love with the files it produced when I worked hard for my shots. I kept my DSLR within range for a while until I realised I hardly ever used it anymore. That’s when I sold all my DSLR gear and went all Fuji. As an early adopter I have seen the X-system going through it’s growing pains but I’ve been very impressed with the way Fuji has responded by spectacular firmware updates, listening to its customers and developing a complete system in such a short time. There are a lot of technical reasons why I choose to work with Fujifilm cameras but the main reason, is that I just love to shoot with them.


Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

Most of the time, I would say: “keep it real”. But every now and then, I want to create something larger than life, surreal or whatever. So ultimately … no


Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

My inspirations comes from everywhere and sometimes I can’t find anything at all. I follow young emerging Instagram photographers but I’m also hugely inspired my masters like Sally Mann, Jeanloup Sieff, Elliott Erwitt, … There are also photographers who’s pictures may not blow me away, but who inspire me by how they approach their work. In the last few years, I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration in reading about the history of photography. And then that’s just photography. Music is also a great source of ideas. When I listen to good music and close my eyes, I see images. I’m often jealous about how musicians can convey emotions. When I’m stuck I sometimes ask myself the question: “How would Pearl Jam or Sinead O’Connor tell this story?”.

Life in general is my biggest inspiration, just take the time to really look around and you’ll see so many inspiring things.


Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

Like with a good meal, a good picture starts with quality ingredients. For me, a photo always has to tell a story or convey an emotion. So let the story/emotion be the starting point of the photographic process. That’s not an excuse not to worry about technique, equipment, experience and skill. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to translate that story into a picture.

I see myself as a fat athlete that wants to become a top player in the sports of photography. In order to get there, just playing streetball with my buddies every Saturday, won’t cut it. It’s about recognising your weak points and target a lot of practice towards them. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone and working hard to become comfortable in new zones.

Instagram in combination with a small camera like the X30 or X100T has been an important training tool for me lately. I try to post a nice picture every day with mixed success. But the journey is more important than the goal. I’m training my eye, get my shots right in-camera, try out new things (like long exposures or landscapes), I learn how to get the most out of my small camera, … I can see the things that I learned that way slowly enriching my paid work and I love the interaction resulting from my Instagram activity.


What’s next for you?

I’m not entirely sure what’s next but I should. The last couple of years have been a crazy rollercoaster that gave me amazing moments but also left me with a bit too much chaos. Life threw me some curveballs that I didn’t see coming and I was forced into a kind of short-term survival mode. I didn’t have much time and energy to spare to look at the big picture and think ahead. It’s time to change that, make some big decisions and move forwards.


Contact info

Commercial website and blog: www.bertstephani.com

I’m a proud member of the KAGE Collective: www.kagecollective.com

Private commissions and weddings: www.lifelovebybert.com

Facebook page for workshops: https://www.facebook.com/bertstephaniworkshops

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bertstephani

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bertstephani/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bertstephani/videos

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X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Doug Chinnery

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?

Doug Chinnery headshotLike many children I was given a Kodak Brownie, when I was around seven or eight years old, I think, and I happily cut off peoples heads and sloped my horizons burning through film at an alarming rate. When I was about twelve or thirteen my step-father gave me a Russian Lubitel Twin Lens Reflex medium format camera, a Rolliflex knock off. He taught me the basics of aperture, shutter speed and ISO and I was hooked. I think it was this camera that also made me fall in love with the square format. In the early years of married life, like so many, photography had to take a back seat but as digital cameras began to emerge my interest was reawakened and an anniversary gift of a digital SLR from my wife, Elizabeth, opened my eyes to all of the new possibilities that digital opened up.

At that time, I was working as a sales and marketing manager in an industrial manufacturing company but I started getting opportunities to make some income from my camera; selling prints, shooting weddings and portraits (which I hated!) and then teaching workshops. This gradually grew until I was only working part time for my company. When the recession started my MD wanted me to return to my role in the company full time, something I felt I couldn’t do. So, I pushed the company car keys across the table to him and walked away to become a full time professional teacher, writer and photographer. It was a huge step, but one I have never regretted.

As for my style of photography, I find myself in a strange position. I know in so many books and articles we are encouraged to develop a personal, identifiable style, but I just can’t. I have no style. I can’t shoot just one way, or with one technique. This is why I don’t describe myself as a ‘Landscape Photographer’ or an “Outdoor Photographer’. I am just a ‘Photographer’. I see things all the time, wherever I am I want to photograph and when I see things I visualise the image in different ways depending on the light, weather, the mood, my mood. I look at photographers websites who have a distinct style with envy – they are so slick and flow so beautifully. But I just can’t be like that. I just take pictures and present them in the way that I feel suits the subject, light and mood best. Perhaps having no style is my style?

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Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

I lead workshops all over the world and needed a high quality camera system which would stand up to the rigours of professional travel but would be light and inconspicuous. I was impressed with Fuji’s investment in lenses and also they way they were responding to users feedback rapidly. To me they were clearly a company dedicated to producing a customer focused system. My first body was an X-Pro 1 and within a couple of hours of using it I was astounded by the results and delighted by its usability. Since that day I have hardly used my DSLR system at all.

I now use a full range of prime lenses for my personal work and when travelling light can manage with just the 18-55mm and 55-200mm zooms in almost all situations. Although I do find myself lusting after the new 10-24mm!

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Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

I believe we should shoot images for ourselves, not to impress others or to conform to rules they would try and impose upon us. There are no Photography Police. Then if others like our work, that is great, but if we are satisfying ourselves creatively it shouldn’t matter to us what others think.

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Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

I have a number of photographers who inspire me, in fact, I list them all here.

But there are some particular ones I would mention. I love the quiet beauty of Michael Kennas work and would also encourage people to look at the extraordinary work of photographer Valda Bailey whose images truly bridge the gap between photography and painting . Another English rural documentary photographer who has had a huge effect on me is Chris Tancock and especially his long term project Beating The Bounds.  I would also point to another major influence as being Chris Friel, a master of alternative techniques who sees the world in extraordinary ways through his camera

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Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

When I started using the Fuji system I tried to use it in the same way as I used my DSLR and found it soon frustrated me. I soon realised it is better to work with the system, not to fight it. So rather than working in Manual as I was used to, I switched to working in Aperture Priority. I also found it much easier to use auto focus on the Fuji than manual focus as I did on the DSLR. For this I manually selected which auto focus point I wanted active so I was still in control of my depth of field. I have always only shot in raw on my DSLR, but as with so many Fuji users, I fell in love with the jpegs and so I now shoot in Fine Jpeg + raw. I use the jpegs for social media, my website and so on but then process the larger raw files as my master files for client work. And for anyone wondering if you can print large images from the Fuji sensor, yes you can. I have clients printing well in excess of 2 meters wide from Fuji X-Pro 1 raw files and the quality is stunning.

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What’s next for you?

I am patiently awaiting the launch of an X-Pro 2. I am sure Fuji will have some special for us when it comes out. In the meantime, I am already planning locations for 2016 and 2017 and have personal projects ‘on the boil’. Gnawing away at me is a huge backlog of images which need processing too. One day, when I am ready, I would love to produce a book, but I don’t feel I have a suitable body of work yet, but I enjoy writing for photography magazines and leading photography tours and workshops.

Contact info


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