Golden Ratio, Left Brain Thinking!

One of the most commonly talked about compositional rules is “The rule of thirds”. Most cameras are set up with grids in the view finder to help you with this rule. I mean, even your phone probably has this feature. Its a great rule. It can certainly add intrigue to your images. There is a little spin though that can take this concept to another level…’s called math. Just kidding….well, kinda.


1.6180339887498948420….What is this madness you ask? It’s called the Golden Ratio or the divine proportion. Let’s walk through this together. Imagine separating a rectangle into two different parts….here is where the math comes in. The longer part divided by the smaller part is equal to the sum of both parts divided by the longer part. Mathematically, the equation looks like this: a/b=(a+b)/a. Visually it looks like this:


It’s a little tighter than the rule of thirds. I find myself lining up horizons about halfway between the typical third and the center of the frame. This will take some time if you are used to strictly shooting on the thirds. A good thing is Lightroom also has a method to help you accomplish this in post processing. Check out our video tutorial on how to view the golden ratio in Lightroom when cropping.


Now why is this ratio so speacial? Because it is so visually appealing to our eyes. It has been used for centuries in architecture and design. The Great Pyramids and the Parthenon proportions are similar to the golden ratio. We are typically most attracted to people who’s features fall near the Golden Ratio proportions. Even Mother Nature herself uses this ratio in things like trees, sea shells and flower petals.


How about the Fibonacci sequence? You know, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 and so on. This sequence is achieved by adding the two previous numbers to get the next number. 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 5+3=8, you get it. The sequence goes on forever. The higher you get in the Fibonacci sequence the closer it resembles the Golden Ratio. 5/3=1.666666, 34/21=1.61904 and 987/610=1.6180327.


Is this all magic? No, just a combination of math and Mother Nature working hand in hand. It’s also a really great way to step up the composition in your images. Take this sequence and start to incorporate it in your photographs. It may be helpful to start in Lightroom to get a feel for it but you will quickly start to notice the sequence around you. Frame your images to match the ratio and you are Golden! (Pun intended)




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