Pho-dog-raphy Project

3 Good Picture Qualities

In this post, we will go through a few pictures showing the different aspects of a good picture. There are three professionally taken pictures and three taken by myself. After viewing each original, I will draw on them to demonstrate the technique being used to make the picture more powerful. The techniques being covered are rule of thirds, depth of focus, and leading lines. I will reveal as much as I can about the photographers or websites the pictures were found on. The theme for this is clearly dogs and based on my love of dogs.

Depth of Focus

Depth of focus

Depth of focus is when an object is in focus to show an emphasis and the surrounding areas are blurred. This is meant to redirect the eyes back to the main subject of the photo. In the above, everything surrounding the dog lying in the leaves is blurred. The dog and the closest surrounding leaves are in focus. This picture is found on and is by photographer Alex.

Depth of focus

In this picture, I outlined the central focus that the photographer wanted to emphasize. You can see that everything behind the dog is blurred to keep the audiences’ attention on the dog. The dog’s color blends well with the leaves on the ground. We can even see that the leaves in front of the dog are blurred as well. This creates the effect of having only the subject in focus.

Depth of focus

This picture was taken in my small apartment with my dog, Ares. He is a beautiful Siberian Husky and looks pretty photogenic. Clearly he likes shoes because he and the shoe are the main things in focus. The background is less blurred than the previous example, but you can still see where the focus is.

depth of focus

Everything behind Ares gets progressively blurred. His proximity and closeness to the camera makes him the main attraction of the picture. Surrounding him is a red line showing where the picture begins to get blurred. This is how it represents depth of focus. Luckily my smart phone focuses where I tell it to, but it can be hard to get the desired effect without altering settings on a good camera.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of thirds

In this picture, the dog is placed in a specific position. If you break the picture into thirds both vertically and horizontally, you can see where the subject should be placed for emphasis. This is called rule of thirds. The picture comes from a dog training website. It can be found at and the author isn’t displayed.

Rule of thirds

As you can see, the dog’s head is placed at the intersection of the directional planes. If the lines were precisely measured, the dog’s body might even follow the line closer. The arm would also be closer to the horizontal line to make the interaction between human and dog the main focus. This particular picture demonstrates depth of focus as well.

This is a picture taken by me from my new apartment complex. The view seen above can be seen from Pioneer Road in Rexburg. It looks toward the city of Rexburg. As you can see the horizon is matching up with the rule of thirds principle. The long bottom two-thirds of the picture emphasizes the horizon when our eyes reach it.

Breaking the picture up using the rule of thirds makes it clear that the horizon was intentionally placed there in this picture. I tried my best to get the horizon on the upper third line to place emphasis there. Luckily my phone has the ability to show the lines for rule of thirds. Having the horizon there creates an extra contrast between the foreground and the background.

Leading Lines

Leading Lines

This Golden Retriever above is majestically jumping over a wall of some kind. The wall leading up to the dog and behind the dog is blurred. It prevents me from identifying what kind of wall this is. The waves are creating the rule of thirds effect. The wall itself is leading to the dog and our eyes follow it. This is how leading lines work. It makes our eyes follow lines to the subject of the picture.

For this duplicate, I drew lines by the leading lines. This shows how they lead us to the dog. The color of the dog makes a strong contrast to the background blues of the ocean. Blurring out the ocean was a good choice because it could have distracted us from the subject, especially a beautiful background like this. An ocean background could easily detract our attention from the dog jumping over a fence.

This amateur photo is taken by me and is another shot of my dog, Ares. The tile on the floor creates lines that lead to the dog. Having the lines lead to Ares really emphasizes him in this picture. His back is placed close to a rule of thirds horizontal line. This is Ares in his happy state: lying on a cool floor. The lighting isn’t the best, but it still demonstrates leading lines.

This copy of the picture shows exactly where the leading lines are placed. We find ourselves following the lines on the floor. These lines lead all the way to Ares in his resting spot. His color blends in quite well with the tile and surrounding colors. The location and colors make it seem rustic.


Rule of thirds, depth of field, and leading lines all play a part in identifying the subject of each photo. Leading lines can help direct our attention by following lines with our eyes. Rule of thirds helps to place the subjects in effective and influential positions to catch our eye. Depth of field is used to blur backgrounds that could otherwise distract us. These can be extra effective when there appears to be too much going on in our pictures. Combinations of these styles can make photos even more powerful.




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