The Rule of Thirds in Macro Photography: The Ultimate Guide

rule of thirds in macro photographyIf you want to capture the best macro photography possible…

…then you need to master composition.

Fortunately, there are a few simple techniques you can use to ensure consistently gorgeous macro images.

And one of those composition techniques is the rule of thirds.

Rule of thirds composition

Read on to find out all about the rule of thirds–and how it’ll get you some stunning macro photography.

What Is the Rule of Thirds?

The rule of thirds is a composition principle in photography.

It states:

The best composition puts the main subject one-third of the way into the frame.

That is, if you put the focal point of the photo a third of the way into the frame, you’ll get much more beautiful eyed susan rule of thirds macro photography

What makes the images so much more beautiful?

Basically, they feel more balanced. By putting your subject off-center, you create a sense of harmony. This is something that works consistently.

To visualize the rule of thirds, you can use this simple grid:

rule of thirds grid

Notice how the lines all exist one-third of the way into the frame. You can use these to guide your compositions and start taking stunning photos, immediately.

But first, it’s important to know a bit more about the rule of thirds and how you should use it:

1. Position Your Straight Lines Along the Rule of Thirds Grid

If you’re shooting macro photos, then you’ll encounter straight lines pretty quickly.

For instance, the stem of a flower offers a perfectly straight line.straight stem rule of thirds macro photography

But how do you include this straight line in the composition?

You guessed it:

You position it one-third of the way into the frame, along the rule of thirds grid.

More specifically, you must ensure that the natural line falls precisely along the rule of thirds gridline.rule of thirds straight line

Of course, this may require slightly changing your initial composition.

But it’ll be worth it, in the end.

When you start capturing stunning macro photos!

2. Position the Most Important Part of the Photo at a Rule of Thirds Power Point

Even once you’ve placed any lines along the rule of thirds grid…

…you still have to deal with the rest of the scene.rule of thirds macro photography

In particular, you need to pay attention to your main subject.

And use the rule of thirds to guide the main subject placement!

Now, the intersection between two gridlines is referred to as a power point. This is because viewers are automatically drawn to the rule of thirds intersections.

rule of thirds power point grid

So anything you put at the intersection?

It gets a lot of attention.

rule of thirds macro photography power points

That’s why you should place your main subject at a rule of thirds power point whenever you can.

Viewers will be drawn straight to it, which is exactly what you want.rule of thirds power point

You’ll be able to emphasize your main subject.

And your macro photos will be far more compelling.

3. Place Your Subject Above or Below a Horizontal Rule of Thirds Gridline

I generally recommend that you use the rule of thirds to create your compositions.

This is especially true if you’re a beginning photographer.grape hyacinth rule of thirds


This composition trick involves deliberately breaking the rule of thirds.

Instead of putting your subject along a gridline…

Place it slightly above or below one of the horizontal gridlines (but keep it aligned with a vertical gridline).

And make sure that the wide-open space all around your subject is empty. Make sure that it’s negative space.subject above horizontal gridline

If you can do this, your photos will have a beautiful sense of minimalism.

Plus, by deliberately missing the gridline, you’ll be able to create an image with slightly more tension–one that really draws the eye.

It’s important to remember that the rule of thirds, despite its name, isn’t a rule. It’s a guideline.breaking the rule of thirds

And, sometimes, it pays to break it.

4. Make Lines Curve Around Power Points

You know how to deal with straight lines in your macro photography compositions.

But what about curved lines?

Lines like this:


And this:

curves in rule of thirds macro photography

Do you see how the lines move through the frame? How do you position them for the best possible composition?

While it’s a bit harder to visualize…

…the rule of thirds comes with a guideline for that situation, too!

Here it is:

Let the bottom of the curve intersect with a rule of thirds power point.

All you have to do is note the bottom of the curve. And then place it so that it swings down, down, down, until it hits a powerpoint!

curves on power points

This will create a more flowing, dynamic macro photo.

One that’s really, really pleasing.

So don’t forget about this trick.

5. Use the Rule of Thirds to Guide Your Post-Processing Crops

Here’s one final way in which you can use the rule of thirds:

Let it guide you when doing post-processing.rule of thirds macro photography

If you’re like most photographers, you sometimes need to tweak your compositions after-the-fact. Which means that you need to do some post-processing (if you want a stunning photo, that is).

One fundamental method of post-processing is the crop. In fact, I think about cropping nearly every one of my photos. It’s one of the first things I consider when I pull up a photo.rule of thirds crop

Which leads me to the tip:

If you do decide to crop your photos…

…use the rule of thirds to guide your crops.

rule of thirds grid lightroom editing

Fortunately, most editing programs actually show you the rule of thirds grid as you crop. So it’s much easier to apply with speed.

I suggest you simply identify the main subject of your photo.

Then engage the Crop tool–until the photo uses the rule of thirds!rule of thirds macro photography editing

And you’ll get a brilliant macro photography composition.

Rule of Thirds in Macro Photography: Next Steps

Now you know all about the rule of thirds.

And you know how to use it to capture amazing macro photos.rule of thirds next steps

But if you want to keep discovering tips, tricks, and secrets for amazing macro photography…

…then I recommend you sign up for my newsletter. I’ll give you lots of material on how to improve your photos, fast!

Simply enter your email below:

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