The golden triangle: compose pictures classically

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Achieve a more inspiring arrangement of objects in your photos

The golden triangle: compose pictures classically

No, we're not talking here about player formations in football or a rather adventurous type of relationship! The golden triangle is instead a classical rule of composition used in paintings and photography. This timeless rule states that to create a harmonious image, the main subject should describe the shape of a triangle. The reason: This kind of arrangement exudes peace while the symmetry conveys clarity and harmony.

Peace and harmony

During the Renaissance, artists were already using this form of composition in their works, for example in religious paintings, still lifes or portraits. One really wonderful piece is “Italia und Germania” – a painting by Friedrich Overbeck from 1828.
But the golden triangle does not only take effect in the traditional fine arts; using regular triangles to compose landscape photographs will also bring peace and harmony to the image. On the other hand, using the golden triangle to compose an image will not really create a sense of excitement or make it feel more dynamic. A photo composed in this way is ultimately going to feel more stable and self-contained: The viewer will perceive that the image is structurally well-balanced and only some movement blurring or sloping lines could be used to inject a little vitality.

How to apply the rule in practice

Applying the theory of the golden triangle to the photos you take in real life could mean, for example, making sure that the ridge of a mountain range runs from above left to below right. The eye of the viewer is guided through the picture by the triangular composition. And what if there aren't any mountains nearby? No problem! You can also take inspiring photographs of buildings or other architectural features using the golden triangle. Simply select up to three single elements to be the focus of your picture, making sure you position two of the three points according to the golden ratio. All three points now form just the right kind of triangle – the connecting lines are not directly visible but the viewer will automatically connect the three main objects of focus automatically with their inner eye.

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