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Maintaining a balanced lifestyle in this fast society, is the key to survival. But already in the ancient Yin and Yang theory, balance has always been the basis. However, if you use the rule of thirds in photography, you place your subject off-center, out of balance. This leaves a void space around the subject (called negative space), and that could result in a empty canvas with only one subject, and turn out rather boring. In that case try to fill this negative space using formal or informal balance.

Formal balance

Formal balance, is when the space directly on the opposite of your subject is filled with an (almost) identical shape. Or, if you could split the picture in half, and get two similar halves. This is also know as a symmetrical balance. Both subjects are identical (like a reflection).

Calm mornings

Reflections are used for formal balancing.

Let's sit, not walk. Put your phone away and let's talk.

Even though the girls sitting on the left, and the girls sitting on the right are not identical. The human shapes are more or less identical. Creating a formal balance.

Formal balance, can also be achieved by centering your subject. Corresponding in the picture below.

Market Hall

The entrance to the Market Hall. Both the left side of the photo, as the right side are “more or less” equally balanced.

Another example is the picture below. The red surface of the empty space on the right and left side of the bottle are equally big. Creating a balanced composition.

Ardbeg 10 years

The bottle is balanced in the middle of the photo.

Informal balance

If, on the other hand, you balance your photo with two unlikely shaped objects, this is called informal balance. Take a look at the next photo. The poppies in the bottom left corner, are off-center. But the bunker, in the right top corner, restores the balance in this scene.

Bunker at the Atlantikwall

The poppies in the left bottom corner, and the bunker in the top right corner balance each other.

Both types of balancing are used to achieve the same goals, to create a tranquil balanced composition, that is pleasing to the eye. So, is it a rule to balance? Like always the answer is no! You decide what is best for your photo!

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