Turning on the Grid - Your Camera's Built in Rule of Thirds Grid (1,QT)

September 09, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Turn On the Grid: How to improve your photos just by turning on this feature found in most cameras.

Are your horizons running down hill?

Here is a simple trick that can make a big difference in the photos you take. You return home from vacation to find some of your photos are tilted. The horizon is running downhill to the left or right. This is a very common problem that can happen to anyone.

You feel rushed or are swept up in the excitement of the moment. Maybe it’s your family’s first trip to Disney World or your eldest daughter’s wedding. All you want is to capture your family’s special moments to enjoy for years to come. In your eagerness to “fit it all in”, you rush to take the picture and quickly move on to your next great shot.

What you see isn’t always what you get.

A scene itself can look different through the viewfinder or on the small screen on the back of your camera. Terrain is not always horizontal across the entire scene and your eyes can be easily fooled. Mountains, tree lines and shorelines are a few ways nature can trick your senses.

Don’t blame yourself. Even professional photographers who have been shooting for many years get tipped photos from time to time. But the good news is that many cameras have a built-in guide to help you get it right.

The optional viewing screen grid displays a set of two horizontal and two vertical lines that split the scene into thirds. These lines will not show in your photos, but they appear in the viewfinder and are a great aid to framing and composition.

  • They help you keep horizons straight.

  • The same applies for vertical lines of buildings and interior rooms.

  • They also remind you of the “Rule of Thirds” which helps you position the primary subject at the most pleasing location. (See my Rule of Thirds article.)

  • Since the horizontal lines divide the frame into thirds, you can easily move the horizon up or down to emphasize ether the foreground or the sky.

  • The vertical lines act as a guide when taking multiple-shot panoramas that need to be overlapped.

“How do you turn on the grid?”

When I show the grid in my classes, many people are amazed that they never knew about it. It is normally off when you get a new camera. So you have to turn it on. That brings us to the big question. “How do you turn on the grid”? The answer is a little different for each camera. I can’t explain the steps for each camera and model available, but I can point you in the right direction and trust you'll find the secret for yourself.

Search your camera manual or menu settings.

First, find the camera’s manual. If it is lost, try downloading a copy from the camera manufacturer’s web site. If it has an index, look up the word “grid” and see if there is a detailed description telling how to turn it on. If that fails, look through the menu settings in your camera. Press the menu button and carefully look through each menu option for the word “grid”. If you find it, remember the current setting, then choose that option and see if you can change the setting to “on”.

Your camera may have more than one grid available. If so, choose the one I described above with two horizontal and two vertical lines. Once the grid is turned on you should be able to press the menu button again to exit the menu system. If all went well the grid is now displayed over the scene on your viewing screen.

If all else fails visit your local camera shop.

Don’t get frustrated if you’re having trouble finding a grid setting. Most new pocket cameras have this option. But if your camera is older, perhaps it’s not available. If you find the grid menu option, but can’t turn it on, try reading the manual to learn how to change menu settings. It varies for many cameras. But once you learn the correct steps, it’s simple to change settings in the future. If all else fails, bring your camera to the store where you bought it or any nearby photo shop. The salesmen are usually familiar with the workings of each brand and will be happy to help.

So get that grid showing and see how much your photos improve. Good Luck!


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Read About Carl's Travels

I've completed a few photo tours of our great country and lived to write about it.   To read about my misadventures along the way, please visit my blog Travels into Wild America. 

A word of warning.  You may want to be near a box of tissues and a bathroom.  Tears of laughter are frequently reported.



1 = Basic   2 = Intermediate
3 = Advanced 
D = Requires DSLR
QT = Quick Tips