As Apple improves the iPhone camera and iOS 7 makes it even more useful, there’s one technique that really improves iPhone camera photos. It’s called the “rule of thirds” and pro photographers use it to compose shots. Using the Rule of Thirds makes our photos look better than typical snapshots.
We’ll show users how to create this effect using the built-in grid lines in the iOS 7 camera on an iPhones or iPad.
The Rule of Thirds Explained
In the “Rule of Thirds” a photographer will imagine that the composition includes four lines, drawn one third of the way from the top and one third from the bottom of the scene. Draw the other two vertically with one drawn a third of the way from the right and the other a third from the left in the scene. That’s why they call it the “Rule of Thirds.”
The image above illustrates the idea. Notice that the person rests on the lower right intersection while the sun hangs in they sky at the upper left. Also, the horizon generally sits along the lower horizontal line. Finally, the person stands along the right vertical line.
You can see an example in the image below.
Notice how the shot above looks better and feels more balanced while the one below seems ordinary and less interesting.
Adding Grid Lines in the iOS 7 Camera App
Photographers often create these kinds of shots without the gridlines, but the iOS 7 camera includes an option to turn on these grid lines, making composing such shots easier.
To turn the grid lines on, open Settings and scroll down to Photos & Camera and tap it. Scroll down to the option labelled Grid and turn it on by tapping the On/Off slider button. Some find the grid lines annoying, so repeat the above steps to turn them off. We wish Apple would put this option inside the Camera app instead of only placing it Settings.
Try taking some shots with the grid lines and remember to follow these suggestions to improve photos.
- Use the top or left intersection for a scene’s focal point unless there’s more interesting stuff above the focal point.
- Place eyes at the intersections since we should focus on eyes when taking close up portraits.
- Use the horizontal lines for horizons, or roads or anything that has a horizontal line in it, like buildings.
- Use the upper horizontal line when the land shows more interesting features and the lower line when the sky looks more interesting.
- In some cases using both horizontal lines works – use one for a horizon and the other for roof tops, for example.
- Use vertical lines for things like buildings, signs with a pole or people standing in front of a landscape shot (see image below).
- Experiment and shoot a scene using all of the intersections or grid lines and pick the shots that looks best.
- Break the rule of thirds only when there’s a good reason to do so, and after getting used to using it first.
- Even if a photographer forgot to compose a shot using the rule of thirds, she can crop the photo using the concept.
Here are a couple of bonus tips for quickly opening the Camera app. Tap the home button from sleep mode to show the lock screen. In iOS 7 there’s a camera icon in the lower right corner. Tap it to open the camera without unlocking the screen. With the iPhone already awake, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to show the Control Panel and fire up the Camera app by tapping the Camera app icon in the lower right corner.