Mastering Photography demands to know the basics of traditional painting and film photography. Golden Section was discovered in 1200 AD by a Mathematician. The first rule of photographic composition that every beginner should learn is the rule of thirds. We have already written that, How to improve the Composition in Portraits using the rules. Basically, this rule of third suggests to divide a picture into 9 equal parts and to align the main elements with the grid lines to obtain even better result. Who does not know anything about composition, rule of thirds allows to switch from snap shot photos to images that has some value.
Mastering Photography : The Golden Section and Rule of Thirds
Well, the rule of thirds is actually a simplification of another rule that is worthy to mention and is even more effective : the golden section.
Back to the past
Around 1200 AD, Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci discovered the golden number : 1.618033. In the period of Renaissance, awareness spread that this number corresponds to a ratio between the size which appears very often in nature (such as the proportions of the limbs of many living beings). In fact, many artists turned it into use in the composition in their paintings, architectural works, statues and so on. Obviously it was not only a lot of craziness around a general number. Then soon it was discovered that the golden ratio (also called the golden section or divine proportion) if applied to the fine arts makes the compositions pleasing to the human eye.
Golden section and Photography
As often happens, the principles applicable in other art can be imported into photography with the same effectiveness. The golden section acts as a tool of composition similar to the grid that is used for the rule of thirds, which have mentioned in the article cited above. The simplest is the grid below. The difference lies in the relationship between the central column and each of the lateral rows. While in case of rule of thirds these are all are the same, in golden section it goes in accordance with the golden number. So, if the first and the third column measures 1, the second measurement is 0.618. You need not to memorize these numbers to effectively use the golden section in photographic composition.
Simplifying Golden Section
The golden section in photographic practice is applied as the rule of thirds : the point on which you want to direct the viewer’s attention is to be aligned with the intersection points of the grid, or at least closer to the lines. The fact remains constant that the golden section in composition allows a much more balanced and “natural” look.
As often happens, if you continue to imagine the grid superimposed on the image and to use this compositional rule, you shall easily compose the scene as you did with rule of thirds. This grid is obtained by drawing a diagonal to the frame and then the perpendicular line that connects to one of the corners. The camera has two diagonals and each has two right angles, then you will get a maximum of 4 combinations. The important point is the intersection of the two lines. This goes to lead the point of interest to the main subject. Finally, you can also use the golden spiral. The spiral is obtained by dividing the image into several golden rectangles. What is important for the photographer, though, is that it not only detects the point of greatest interest, but also it is a line that can guide the viewer’s eye. Failing to arrange the objects in the picture in order to follow at least approximately with the spiral, effective composition is difficult to obtain. Although there are several variations of the spiral, it depends on how you divide the frame. Basically, you can move the “curl” to right, left, up and down.