Ask any photographer or have a look through any photography book, and I am sure that The rule of thirds will pop up at some point!
So what is The rule of thirds and how can we use it in our photography?
The rule of thirds is a guideline used in photography to create a balanced and visually pleasing composition. It suggests that the image should be divided into thirds horizontally and vertically, creating nine equal parts. The main subject of your image should then be placed at one of the four intersections where these lines cross such as the eye of an animal. This creates a sense of balance and can add interest to the photograph. It's not a strict rule, but rather a guideline that photographers use as a starting point for composing their shots, and can be broken if it creates a more interesting or dynamic image.
However, rules are there to be broken!
Some of the best advice that I was given when I was learning photography is that you should learn the rules, learn the theory and learn it all well! Once you have a good understanding of these rules, then you should start figuring out how to break them. That is how you stand out and create a unique photographic portfolio as a photographer.
While the rule of thirds guideline can be very effective in creating a visually pleasing composition, there may be times when you want to break the rule of thirds to create a more impactful or unique image.
Here are a few ways to break the rule of thirds in wildlife photography:
1. Centering the subject: Instead of placing the subject off to one side of the frame, center it in the middle of the image. This can create a sense of symmetry and balance, and can be particularly effective with symmetrical subjects such as animals with strong markings or patterns.
2. Placing the subject off-center: Instead of placing the subject at one of the intersections of the rule of thirds, place it slightly off-center. This can create a more dynamic composition and can be used to emphasize a particular aspect of the subject.
3. Cropping the subject: By cropping the subject close to the edge of the frame, it creates a sense of tension and can draw the viewer's eye to the subject.
4. Breaking the rule of thirds with negative space: By leaving a large area of negative space, you can create a sense of isolation or emphasis on the subject.
5. Using diagonal lines: Instead of placing the subject on one of the horizontal or vertical lines of the rule of thirds, place it along a diagonal line. This can create a sense of movement and dynamism in the image.
It's important to note that breaking the rule of thirds should be done thoughtfully and with purpose, and not just for the sake of breaking it. The most important thing is to create a composition that effectively conveys the story or emotion you want to express in your photograph.
At the end of the day the Rule of Thirds is a great tool for learning composition in photography and to keep in mind when looking through your viewfinder.
But… Do not get stuck on it. If the story you want to tell does not work with the Rule of Thirds - break the rule! Tell your story and rather shoot what feels right!
If you have anything to add or have any questions - feel free to leave a comment below!