The Rule of Thirds

If you are interested in getting into photography or maybe you are already keen, this will be a good read. We would like to help you to find ways of making your imagery just that …

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Club 4X4 Insurance
Jan 11 2023
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If you are interested in getting into photography or maybe you are already keen, this will be a good read. We would like to help you to find ways of making your imagery just that much better. You might like to capture better images of the scenery which you see during your travels. Maybe you could create better images of wildlife. Perhaps you could make the most out of life’s family moments and would like your images to represent something you would be proud of.

Its important to note, this story will suit users of smartphones as well as full camera systems.

Why isn’t this family below in the centre of the picture? That’s what this story is all about… taking things away from centre.

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(Bringing this family to the left of centre opens up the image revealing the setting sun and highlighting the location. You might notice the horizon does not lay on the lower guide however, the spacing above and below the family is balanced.)

I often have people ask me for tips on how to make their images look better. The number one single item I could say that will improve your photography is composition. It’s actually quite simple once you get the hang of it, but the journey of figuring it out will always bring out a better photographer in you. Enjoy the journey and make the most of every image. Think about the look in the image before you raise your camera or smartphone.

We will go into depth with composition in a future article. For now, I would like to “focus” on something that is extremely important to composition… “The Rule of Thirds”.

Using the rule of thirds to assist you as a guide for better photography.

What exactly is this “Rule of thirds”?

The Rule of Thirds is a system for composition which divides your camera or smartphone into thirds of both horizontal and vertical imaginary lines. This might provide a guide for where the subject should be placed in the image. You can turn this feature on for the camera app you use on your smartphone. This will assist you in figuring out the starting point of how to compose your shot.

< insert image: iPhoneGrid.jpg >

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(For all you photographers out there who use a full-sized camera, you most likely already know of the grid features available to you. Smartphones have this as well. Here is the view when you turn on iPhones camera app grid highlighting the Rule of Thirds. This can be found in settings of your camera app)

If used correctly, the rule of thirds should balance the image creating space for the photographer to be able to tell his or her story in the image capture.

There are other things to think about when using the rule of thirds, most importantly, when not to use this system.

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(This Defender has more impact composed dead centre drawing more focus on the vehicle and the mud. No need for considering the rule of thirds here, just capture the action.)

It is for this reason I believe the Rule of Thirds should be called the “guide of thirds”, as it should be utilised as a starting point and not as a solution to every image captured. If you applied this system to every image you take, it could have a negative effect on your imagery.

Simply put, in photography, you should always create your own style and follow it to suit your personality, and the image look that you love. This system should be added to your style to assist in creating the right look to your photography.

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(Utilising the guide to the right of frame we have again opened up the scene to the viewer telling a story of the dog in the scenic river setting looking intently across the shot. Notice the subject also has a balanced spacing above and below. )

The concept is to balance the subject and background by the means of applying simple rules when you are framing up a shot. Let’s say you are photographing a person at a grand location. You wouldn’t place the person in the middle of the image, as this would block the audience from seeing this “grand location”.

If you always placed the subject in the centre of frame, the world could look boring. Using the rule of thirds, we can push the subjects out from the centre creating space for your photography story. So instead of the photograph looking like it’s a photo of someone just somewhere out there, it allows you as the photographer to tell the audience, this person is somewhere special.

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(Utilising the guide lining up the rider to the left of centre, opens up the image. This silhouette of a rider has a black base. … a quick tip… The horizon in a silhouette should never line up with the lower guide as this would create a black base to the image.)

Interested in creating silhouettes like this one? Follow this link for an article on exactly that.

Photography How-To: Creating Silhouettes

The same can be suggested when photographing scenery, wildlife, sport or your 4WD as can be seen in some of the following examples.

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(Again its important to realise the horizon doesn’t always need to line up with the grid. Here the highlight is the foliage and the tree but having the offset in the image highlights the other trees.)

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(Notice that this kangaroos face lines up with two intersecting lines, whilst the body balances out the lower framing area.)

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(This rider is lined up to the right and lower grid providing a little impact that he is heading downhill.)

So next time you pick up your camera or take your smartphone out of your pocket, think about the fact that composition is extremely important to an image and try using the Rule of Thirds to assist you in your photography.

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-Michael Ellem

Offroad Images

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As 4X4 enthusiasts who live for the opportunity to create awesome imagery anywhere in Australia, we know that our vehicle assets are covered wherever we travel to create that shot, as we are insured by Club 4X4.

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