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March 10, 2021

How to Use the Golden Ratio in Photography

You can find the golden ratio everywhere in nature, from a nautilus shell to the waves of the ocean. Even parts of the human body and our DNA follow the golden ratio.

By using the golden ratio, you can create a photo that is more pleasing to the eye in a natural way.

What Is the Golden Ratio?

The golden ratio is a composition guide. Some people call it the Fibonacci spiral, golden spiral, phi grid, divine proportion, or the golden mean.

It helps to lead the viewer through the entire photo. The composition will be more pleasing and balanced for the human eye.

The golden ratio existed well before the modern camera’s birth. When the Egyptians built their pyramids, they used the golden ratio. Famous art pieces such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper are also following the rules of the golden ratio.

But it does not stem from painting techniques. The golden ration comes from mathematics. The Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci came up with the idea when he arranged a series of numbers.

Following the sequence of his numbers can create an aesthetically pleasing art composition.

Don’t let mathematics scare you off though! You don’t need to apply any numerical calculations to use this technique.

The golden ratio is 1.618 to 1, and it is based on the spirals seen in nature from to ocean waves.

Even if you dislike maths, this concept can change your composition from good to excellent.

There are several ways to use the golden ratio. The Phi Grid and the Fibonacci Spiral are the most common ones applied in photography.

The Phi Grid

The Phi Grid is another way of considering proportion in photography. It looks like the Rule of Thirds, but you are not dividing the frame into equal thirds. The grid consists of a 1:0.618:1 ratio instead of the usual 1:1:1. The centre lines are closer to each other.

Using this method means that your subject is located a bit more central.

This way, your composition will be more unique and draw the viewer’s attention quickly to your subject.

The Fibonacci Spiral

The Fibonacci or golden spiral is built from squares that are based on the Fibonacci numbers. The length of every square is a Fibonacci number.

Imagine placing the squares within a frame. If you draw arcs from opposite corners of each square, you will end up with a curve resembling the shape of a spiral. This is a pattern that appears everywhere in nature and resembles the shell of a nautilus.

The curve flows through the frame and leads your eye around the picture.

You should place the area with the most details in the smallest box of the coil. This does not have to be in one of the corners. It can be anywhere in the frame. Some say that the face of the Mona Lisa is also placed within that crucial area.

Try to position the rest of the subject within the curve too. This will lead the eye of the viewer through the image in a natural way.

Even if you use different composition guidelines, the subjects’ position is very similar.

The golden ratio encourages photographers to consider not only where the subject is. It also matters where you place everything else in the picture.

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