Two terms, one more frequently heard that the other, are the golden ratio and the rule of thirds. But is one really better than the other? In this short video, you’ll learn what they are, how they impact your images, and how you can use them in your compositions:
Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a very common rule of composition, one that has been in use pretty much since the dawn of photography. The concept involves imagining two sets of lines, one running from left to right and one from top to bottom and cutting each other at four points, thus dividing the whole frame into nine equal boxes.
The four intersecting points are considered the “sweet spots.” Placing the subject of focus at any one of those intersecting spots or along the grid lines makes the whole composition appear a whole lot better.
The golden ratio, on the other hand, is a slightly technical concept.
“The golden ratio is an irrational number roughly approximated to 1.618.”
Imagine a line A. Now, divide that line into two unequal parts. Let the larger part be B and the shorter part be C. The golden ratio states that if A/B is equal to B/C then those two numbers are in the golden ratio.
“The golden ratio gives birth to the golden spiral. It is a logarithmic spiral which is found all over the place in nature but with a growth factor that’s equal to the golden ratio. Meaning that for every quarter turn the spiral makes, the line gets one golden ratio further away from its center point.”
The golden spiral exists in nature all around us. The nautilus shell and the arms of a spiral galaxy both demonstrate the golden spiral. This golden spiral is what governs the concept of the golden ratio rule of photography.
The golden ratio rule of photography warrants that the subject of focus be overlayed on one of the intersecting lines as shown in the image above. An extension of this is the phi grid. The phi grid looks almost like the rule-of-thirds grid. Except in this case, the parallel lines are closer to each other and to the center of the frame, and the nine boxes are not all the same size.
Some landscape photographers argue that the phi grid (and the associated golden ratio rule) is a better guide for composition than the rule of thirds. The phi grid, they say, makes photos look a bit more interesting and more natural.
What do you think? Is the golden ratio a superior compositional rule?
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