First what is the rule of thirds? Does it mean all photographers are automatically allowed a third helping at the dinner table? Not exactly! The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline for both photography and painting. Wikipedia defines the rule of thirds like this:

The rule of thirds is a compositional rule of thumb. The rule states that an image can be divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The four points formed by the intersections of these lines can be used to align features in the photograph.

OK, you have the the definition, how do you use it and what does it really mean. I use the rule of thirds in maany of my shots. Here is a example from a wedding I shot during the summer.

In the this particular shot I placed the subject, the minster, off-center to the left. I used the rule of thirds to place the focus point on his eyes, well to be honest on his brow line, and allowed framed his head and beard in to fill the remainder of the left side of the image. I also used a shallow depth of field in order to blur the background.How does the rule apply to this? In your head draw a tick-tack toe board on the image, if you spread the lines out evenly you end up with something like the image below.

Now all you have to do behind the lens is place the point of interest for the photo you about to take on one of the intersect points. Here is another example, this one of a Gold Finch taken from my parents front porch.

Using the rule of thirds I have placed the finch on an intersect point of our tic-tack-toe board. Resulting in a more visually pleasing image.

Go practice it and let me know what you think and how you did. One more thing before you go. The rule of thirds is a rule of thumb, not a law. Sometimes you have to break the rule in order to make the shot.

Keep snapping thoes shutters!