VIDEO: The Golden Ratio: The Golden Rules of Composition

Continuing the study into good composition, the rule of thirds is an easy way to enhance the composition of any visually framed art. The rule of thirds works because of the golden ratio. To get a refresher course on the golden ratio watch the video below:

What is the golden ratio? Well, this Wikipedia article could give you a long mathematical explanation, but let’s just say it’s the mathematical formula for aesthetically pleasing composition. It’s the reason the rule of thirds works. But there are many photographs that don’t follow the rule of thirds, but the composition is still pleasing. The golden ratio accounts for that.

You see, the rule of thirds is simply one manifestation of the golden ratio. The golden ratio is, so to speak, the golden rule of photography/good composition. To use it in your photos, it’s much easier to break it down into specific applications, such as the rule of thirds. In fact, the rule of thirds is a manifestation of the golden rectangle.

Another application is the golden triangle. To use this as a compositional guide, you have to imagine lines going through the frame so that they form equi-angular triangles, that is, triangles with the same angles in them (different sizes, but always the same shape). The diagram at left shows what this looks like, but you can add more and more lines conceptually if you wish, as long as the angles always remain the same. The following images all have a nice composition, but they do not appear to follow the rule of thirds. The golden triangle is a much better way to conceptualize them.

The area just inside the point of the smallest triangle is sometimes called a cradle. This is often seen as a good place in the frame to position the elements of your picture. Let’s go back to the windmill photo.

As you can see, if the lines are drawn correctly, the cradle is in the same spot as the power point. This is not just a coincidence.

via An Open-Ended Course in Photography: Advanced Composition and the Golden Ratio.