Visual Glossary

Rule of Thirds

When looking through the viewfinder or LCD screen, picture dividing what you see into thirds by using a grid of 2 vertical lines and 2 horizontal lines (think a tic-tac-toe grid). Position your camera so that the elements in the composition or main subject(s) line up along these lines OR at the intersection points. Note: some cameras have the ability to overlay a rule of thirds grid in the viewfinder or LCD screen.


Balance: Composition is arranged with one or more elements in the photograph creating a sense of stability.

Symmetry: Elements on both sides of the image are of equal weight and equidistant from the center.


Position from which photograph is taken. Bird’s- eye view: View of the subject from high above.

Worm’s eye view: View of the subject from below.


Frame found in the environment (a doorway, window, archway, tree, etc.) is positioned around the subject, providing a focal point.

Leading Lines

Lines found in the environment positioned in a way that leads the viewer’s eye through the composition.


A principle of design in which elements are set in opposition in order to emphasize differences.
Contrast in an image can give added attention to a specific subject of interest. Tonal contrast refers to difference in white, gray, and black tones of black and white photography. Color contrast refers to combination of complementary colors in color photography.

Depth of Field

Area in picture plane field that is in sharp focus. A photograph shot with a shallow depth of field isolates a subject in extreme emphasis while areas in the background, and sometimes even in the foreground, are out of focus. Extended depth of field refers to a photograph in which all subjects in the foreground and background are in focus.
Note: A shallow depth of field can be created by:
a) positioning your subject so there is a significant distance between it and the objects in the background;
b) experimenting with the camera’s aperture;
c) utilizing features found on many digital camera’s including the macro focus feature