We’re getting ready to start our next online class next week, Advanced Landscapes, and it is going to dive deep into composition and technique we don’t have time to cover during our workshops in the field. I’ll be talking about ten new compositional guidelines way beyond the rule of thirds. And one of those I’ll explain is the Rule of Odds.
Just the name sounds good…rule of odds. What this compositional rule states is that the human brain likes things framed on either side, resulting in an odd number of subjects. but creating visual harmony we like in photographs. If we have an even number of subjects like two or four, our natural tendency is to want to split those apart in the frame. With three subjects, we find this more pleasing and harmonious. What is unique about this rule is we are not worried about where subjects are in the frame like the rule of thirds, but focused on the number of subjects.
Take a look at the image above. First your eye will go to the obvious larger rocks in the foreground, three grouped together and anchoring the image at the bottom. These rocks also provide an interesting foreground and balance with the sunlit mountain in the background. But as you look closer, there are three more smaller rocks just behind the larger ones. In this image, the rule of odds is reinforced two different areas in the frame.
One of my favorite images from Tasmania in the Bay of Fires follows this rule (image at top of the post). The three foreground rocks provide harmony and symmetry following the rule of odds in this photograph. Keep this in mind the next time you are composing your shot. This rule works with all types of photography, not just landscapes. And if you want to learn more, we still have one spot left on our Advanced Landscape class starting next week. Happy shooting this weekend!