[Photography] The golden ratio and the rule of 1/3

In photography for beginners and for amateurs, there is a rule of thumb that the protagonist of the picture should be in the the position one third of the frame. By placing the protagonist in the one third position, the picture will have a harmony with other.
From my understading, this one third rule comes from the golden ratio. First, the golden ratio is close to 1/3 (as explained in this article). By the way, most of national flag in the world are of aspect ratio. ratio 2/3, a derivative from the golden ratio. (I wish I could tell Sheldon Cooper that).

Why the golden ratio gives a harmonic perception? Is this real or just a myth? Nobody really knows, but in my experience as a novice, by following this simple rule does help to increase the harmony in the composition of the image.

As stated earlier, the 1/3 ratio is used enormously in photography. Personally, I use very often, as you can see in the example below; picture of a lonesome bundle. First of all, the “lonesome bundle” is in the bottom-right one-third position, which naturally put it into the focus point of picture (again, nobody knows why). Secondly, there is one third of the picture, the top third, is filled with other bundles, which positions like castle. Those are not the main protagonists of the picture, their role cannot be diminished however, since they emphasize the lonesomeness of our poor bundle.


Lonesome bundle

Take away message (for novice):

  • always put your protagonist in the positions 1/3 of the picture !
  • remember of the 1/3 rules for your images’ composition
  • Practice !

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