What Is The Rule Of Thirds? How Do I Use It In Motorsport Photography

by May 7, 2023

The rule of thirds is a fairly common photography technique, but did you know that it can be used to help showcase speed and motion in your motorsport photos?

A fundamental principle in photography, the rule of thirds, can help you create more balanced and visually appealing images, which is incredibly important in motorsport photography.

So let’s look at the rule of thirds in more detail and explain how you can use it to improve your motorsport photography.

What Is The Rule Of Thirds?

The rule of thirds is a photographic compositional guideline that divides an image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, creating nine equal sections of the frame with four intersecting points.

The main principle behind the rule of thirds is to avoid placing the subject of the photo in the dead centre of the image and instead offsetting to one of these four intersecting points to create a visually appealing composition with a sense of balance and movement.

In motorsport photography, the rule of thirds can be applied in various ways. For instance, placing the race car (or bike) along one of the vertical lines allows room for it to move into the frame, conveying a sense of direction and momentum. Similarly, positioning a driver’s helmet or eyes near one of the intersecting points draws more attention to them and adds intensity to the image.

Why Is The Rule Of Thirds Important In Motorsport Photography?

In motorsport photography, the rule of thirds is crucial because it can help you create more balanced and dynamic images. By positioning the subject of your image off-centre, you can create a more visually interesting composition that captures the movement and energy of the sport.

By using the rule of thirds, you can create dynamic compositions that depth and space to the image while guiding the viewer’s eye to emphasize the subject better. By incorporating this compositional guideline when capturing your images, you can elevate your motorsport photographs, showcasing the essence and thrill of the sport in a visually captivating manner.

How To Use The Rule Of Thirds In Motorsport Photography

How To Use The Rule Of Thirds In Motorsport Photography

Now that you understand the importance of the rule of thirds in motorsport photography. Let’s look at some practical tips on how to use it.

Use The Gridlines In Your Camera

Most cameras have a gridline feature that can help you apply the rule of thirds to your images. When you activate this feature, a grid will appear as an overlay in your camera’s LCD screen or viewfinder, making it easier to position your focus point (and subsequently your subject) at one of the four intersecting points that are key to this composition technique.

Positioning Your Subject

The most critical aspect of using the rule of thirds in motorsport photography is where you position the race car (or bike) in your photo. If the car is moving left to right in the frame, then you need to leave space on the right to give the subject somewhere to go. Leaving space in the direction of movement provides a sense of speed through the image, especially when combined with panning. This technique can help you create a more visually interesting composition that captures the motion and direction of the car.

Use Leading Lines

Leading lines are another powerful compositional tool that can help you create more dynamic images. In motorsport photography, leading lines can be the track, barriers, or other elements that guide the eye towards the subject. You can create a more visually engaging composition by using leading lines in combination with the rule of thirds.

Experiment With Different Perspectives

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different perspectives. Try shooting from low angles, high angles, or different positions around the track. By changing your perspective, you can create a more unique and visually interesting image that captures the sport’s dynamic nature, making it so appealing.

Conclusion

The rule of thirds is a fundamental principle in photography that can help you create more visually appealing images. In motorsport photography, the rule of thirds is particularly important because it can help you capture the speed, motion, and direction of race cars (or bikes). By positioning the subject off-centre and using leading lines, you can create a more dynamic and visually engaging composition that captures the excitement and adrenaline of the sport.

So, the next time you’re shooting motorsport events, remember to apply the rule of thirds to add impact and balance to your photographs.

Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

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