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Alternate Composition: The Golden Ratio in Art and Photography

Updated on June 17, 2017
The golden ratio, as presented in this rectangle, can help with the composition of a photograph.
The golden ratio, as presented in this rectangle, can help with the composition of a photograph.

The Golden Ratio has been used by artists since the Renaissance era to help with the compositions of pieces of art. It is used to determine the focal point of a subject. The Golden Ratio can be an effective tool to adding a new dimension into your photography.

What is the Golden Ratio?

The golden ratio can trace itself back to at least the time of Pythagoras and Euclid, two very well known Greek mathematicians. It is still studied today by modern mathematicians, as it is concept that continues to be useful yet elusive. The ratio is about 1:1.6, although the number is irrational and goes on indefinitely.

The Fibonacci Spiral is used to illustrate the ratio, the two concepts are interconnected. The Fibonacci sequence, made famous by The DaVinci Code, is the set of numbers used to construct the spiral. The mathematics formula used to make the sequence contains the golden ratio.

The Golden Ratio and Photography

With all of the rules that are used in photography, this is another one to add to the list. It is an alternative to the Rule of Thirds, allowing for a different type of composition. By placing the major focal point of the photograph in a place that is created by the Fibonacci spiral, as shown above. The focal points could be an eye in a portrait, or a building in a landscape.

The rules of composition allow for many interesting photographs to be constructed. There is the rule of thirds, which is one of the first rules that people learn. That is not the only option, though. Using the Golden Ratio when constructing photographs will give you another tool for the toolbox, and give you more options when taking a photograph.


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