The golden ratio

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The golden ratio

When composing their pieces of work, painters, sculptors and of course photographers have placed their trust in the golden ratio for centuries. But what is it exactly?

The golden ratio is a proportional relationship that results in an aesthetically pleasing picture composition. In this relationship, the proportion of the shorter side to the longer side is the same as the proportion of the larger portion to the whole piece. It sounds complicated but in principle it's quite simple. If you frame the main subject within the picture so that the distance between the frame and the edge of the picture is given by the golden ratio, you will have composed, as if by magic, a particularly harmonious image that will be very attractive to the human eye. This principle was already known in ancient times, it is just the phrase golden ratio that is relatively new.

Don't position the main subject in the middle

Applying the golden ratio to your photography will ensure you create especially attractive photos. Nevertheless, it would seem that many photographers are still unaware of this principle: Time and again you will see photos where the photographer has positioned the subject in the middle, which does seem logical initially when you think about the focus point of the camera. However, the image then feels rather static and less interesting.

Instead, the subject should be placed slightly off to the left or right and a little higher or lower to satisfy the aesthetic aspect of the golden ratio. The complicated calculation of the proportions is of course a real hindrance to photographers, which is why they tend to fall back on the rule of thirds. This simplified version of the golden ratio is handily integrated into almost every camera as grid lines or virtual grid lines that can be enabled in the digital display.

Simple rule of thirds

To create an image that is as aesthetically pleasing as possible, simply follow the rule that the main subject should always be lined up along the lines of the camera grid. We recommend that beginners firstly focus sharply on the subject centrally and then shift the image section slightly. Photographers taking digital photographs can also correct the images later on a computer so that they fit to the golden ratio or rule of thirds.

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