Do extreme aspect ratios diminish or even negate important compositional rules like the Rule of Thirds?
I was working with 5:1 panoramic crops thinking about an upcoming article on retouching. My goal was a banner-like crop that showed just the eyes. Without even thinking, I put the eyes on the lower rule of thirds (pictured below).
I thought, “Hmm, that looks a little odd. True I got great brow space but the eyes are cramped against the bottom of the frame. It almost looks like she is peeking over the bottom border. It didn’t work for me.
My next step was to put the eyes on the upper rule of third. I lost the brows completely. I also gained enough of a nose to look awkward. Clearly, with this crop, and this subject, rule of thirds was failing me. The crop of choice was the opening image where they eyes are dead center in the frame vertically.
For the article I ultimately tweaked the crop to satisfy a little Rule of Space for the eyebrows. It is still a centered crop but the eyes aren’t coming over the bottom edge as badly as in the lower rule crop.
I guess the point is compositional rules are great guides until they don’t work. Then you just have to with your gut. Never leave something on a rule of anything just because it is a rule.
Let’s repeat that: Never leave something on a rule of anything just because it is a rule.
Rikk Flohr © 2011