JPEGCrops guides

Does guides (mis)guide?

Composition using Rule of Thirds, Golden Section and the eye.

The rules

Two well-known rules of thumb for composing images is the Rule of Thirds and the Golden Section. Both rules are supposed to make some images more pleasing to the eye of the viewer, but it doesn't work on all images.

Which rule people prefer, if they like to think about such rules at all, seems to be somewhat culturally dependent.


Inspired by the page explaining the Rule of Thirds, I decided to add a guiding grid to JPEGCrops. The cultural differences made it impossible to pick a single one, so I implemented both guides.

Shown to the right is a thumbnail of JPEGCrops with three different compositions of the same image. If you take a look at the full image, you should see the guides quite clearly.

I'll quickly add that I do not count myself among those with a good eye for composition, so the suggested croppings should not be taken as a guide to fine composition, but merely as an illustration of my dilemma.


The big question is, does guiding help?

Let's say that I want to draw attention to the two kids making a snowman. I follow the guides and place the horizon on one of the lines - the bottom one - as the foreground is just snow and I kind of like the tree. I place the left kid on the rightmost line, as that kid is my favorite (not true, I only know then casually, but play along please).

Now, what happens here? The first two compositions follow the rules and as such should be pleasing to the eye. But something's missing... The tree I kinda like. That's why I made the third composition, the one without guides.

So, which one is best? That depends on what's more important: The kids or the tree? I don't know, but if I had just followed the guides without trying it freestyle, I wouldn't have thought about it.

Thirds or Golden?

So, which one of the rules is the best?

Both are rules of thumb and aimed at producing the most pleasing composition to the greatest number of people. As such it is possible to perform a census, but I don't know if any has been done. The standard advice is to go with the one you find the most pleasing.


I'm not entirely sure if the Golden Section can be used the way I do it. I'm currently investigating that and I will update this page when I learn more about that.