The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio
More Essentials of Photographic Composition – The Golden Ratio

The Golden ratio, or what’s often known as the golden mean, even called the divine proportion is another one of those age-old formulas for calculating compositional space.

The golden mean was developed in Renaissance times, but the concepts were hanging around even earlier than that, and can be noted back to ancient Greek architecture and design. It was during the Renaissance that artists, architects and designers started using the golden mean to determine the correct aesthetic placement of elements into a composition, by using mathematical principles to achieve this.

The renaissance mathematician Luca Pacioli (1445-1517) writings on the subject were significant on development of the golden ratio used in the arts. These texts by Pacioli really influenced a new approach for artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, who used the principles in such paintings as the Madonna and Child, and The Annunciation.

The Golden ratio is still fundamental in composition today, especially in architecture, one such modern example is the giant greenhouse in South West England known as the The Eden Project, which also used another similar concept known as Fibonacci Numbers to determine it’s structure.

Using the golden Ratio in Photography

In photography, just like art, architecture and design - we can still use the principle today! To best use the principle in photography, to make things really simple we best need to use the golden rectangle - the way that that the golden ratio fits into a rectangle helping to determine composition. This context was how those Renaissance artists, such as Da Vinci first used and developed the golden ratio into their compositions.

The golden ratio is used to construct the sides of the rectangle, and overall divides the rectangle into two shapes that fit into the rectangle, a square and a smaller rectangle. This forms the structure into which the elements of your composition can be added.

Find out more in the next article!

Further Reading

The Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is one of the most popular principles of composition in photography. By understanding and applying the rule of thirds to your own photographs, you´ll begin to produce more effective, well-balanced, or even dramatic pictures.

Aerial and Linear Perspective
The use of perspective in a photograph can really help to draw the viewers attention and produce dramatic and dynamic pictures. An understanding of the way different perspectives work can greatly help you to improve the composition of a photograph.

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This content was written by Kaye Barnett. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Ewa Sapinska for details.