Over the past couple of weeks I have explained compositional rules and action points using the “Rule of Thirds”, but the “Rule of Thirds” is only one compositional rule. It is the easiest rule to work with and will help create a well balanced image but there are other rules that can be quite effective in the right circumstances.

Today I want to explain Triangles.

Triangles are a very energetic compositional rule. Through the use of strong asymmetry, diagonal compositional structure and action points we use triangles in images we want to have more visual energy.

You visualize the triangle by drawing a line from opposite corners of the image along it’s long dimension, then draw a right angle line to the opposite corners.

Triangles have action points and rule lines just like the rule of thirds. And you can use the triangular sections as compositional blocks to balance the construction of your images. The intersection of the lines is the action point. This is where you want your critical element to be. This element can be a design or styling element used to draw the viewer deeper into the image. Here we used colorful peppers to draw peoples attention.

If you can set up design or styling elements along the compositional lines, as with the flowers and cup, this will give them visual authority and helps lead the viewers eye to the action point.

Notice the spatial divisions the lines set up.

How those spaces are filled give your composition “balance.” Understand that a perfectly balanced image is not always achievable or desirable. This particular image has a lot of energy to it gained through the imperfect balance created through the use of the triangular compositional rule.

Using triangles we have four sections of the image to work with. We achieved left and right balance in this image by adding the flowers to the left-most triangle which over compensated for the strength of the painting on the right. Moving the peppers closer to the windows and away from the action point would have created a more stable balance but the image would have lost much of it’s energy.