Thread: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

1. Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

I heard a number of folks that feel very strongly in one direction or the other.

In the Rule of Thirds camp there seems to be a consensus that this is a critical component of most good compositions and you'd better have a good reason for not using it, for example an image based on symmetry.

In the Golden Ratio camp I've heard that the Rule of Thirds is just for beginners and the Golden Ratio, which is found repeatedly in Nature and used by the art 'masters' is far more pleasing.

As near as I can tell, the difference is that the main points of interest should be either 33% from the edge of the image or closer to the center of the image at 41%.

When should you use one over the other, if ever? And why?

2. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

It's like saying "you should only eat oatmeals every morning and not bacon and eggs", Frank. Both works beautifully DEPENDING on the shot you are composing and the aspect ratio you are using. If they have a very strong argument why the other is "better" it's fine by me. In the end, what matters is if you can create a strong composition using any of the two. Fortunately, if you have lightroom with you, it's quite easy to play with both since you can superimpose the grid guides just by pressing R and O consecutively. I'll see if I can find some old shots of mine using both the 1/3 rule guide or the fibonacci golden ratio guide.

3. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

Frank,

I know this sounds like a cop-out answer, but the answer really is... you shoot whatever the scene dictates and/or what your vision sees. Other folks might see things differently, but trying to shoot someone else's vision is going to end poorly.

- Bill

4. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

Here's a simple comparison, Frank. Let the viewers decide which looks "better".

Here's the SOOC shot:

Here's the SOOC with the 1/3 rule grid guide in LR 3 superimposed:

and here's the SOOC with the golden ratio grid guide superimposed:

Here's the actual crop using the golden ratio:

and here's the actual crop using the 1/3 rule guide:

Frankly, I can use any of the two any time of the day.

5. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

Back to being a little crazy - maybe it's too late...

Using my figure below, I suggest that while either the mean or the Rule is perfectly fine, neither is always "just right." I tend to give them thier use a means of getting me at least inside the playing field, but use other principles and elements of art to finalize the positioning of the focal point,

In this placement, note how I've accounted for converging lines, a simple trapezoid to ground the figure delicately to the top of the computer, and used curved lines to offset the stark geometry of all the straight and diagonal lines. Training the eye to see all these components is far more important than solely relying on an "in a perfect world" grid and applying the crop.

Note 2: this weighting can be accomplished with values, tones, colors, etc. Lines are simply one element.

Jiro Figure

6. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

This is an intriguing thread. To add my two cents to the pool I would say that while some basic guidlines help those who are still somewhat inexperienced in art to recognize what can aid in strong composition, when you get inside the mind of a truly great artist a lot of those things don't even come to mind. They see a scene and instantly recognize where the beauty and strength of the scene are. So for those wondering about whether they should use the one or the other, I say get so familiar with your medium, so close to your subject that these guidelines become un-necessary. Talking to people who have just taken up the camera they complain that they can't produce their vision in a still image. I can help them by giving them basic guidelines but ultimately what they need is more experience. So my answer is... get out there and shoot!

7. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

Originally Posted by jiro
Frankly, I can use any of the two any time of the day.
Or none.

I think Jeff's post immediately above is the real answer. All these 'rules' and guides are just that - guides. What you 'feel' is the correct composition as you look through the viewfinder or on the Liveview (or equivalent) screen, is the correct composition. You'll have arrived at that view having had the benefit of knowledge and understanding about these concepts and they will act as conscious or unconscious (depending on your level of experience) guides to your thinking.

8. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

Hey

These four points are a way of entering the Image, a starting off point where the eye naturally goes to. The "hook" if you like, is to put an element of your composition, that you want the viewer to see, on one of these points.

On this Image, my "hook" lies at the end of a path,as you walk down there I want you to look at the texture of stone, the columns on the left take you up to the ceiling. The crossing arches lead you down back on to the path.
Becouse you have to travel through the Image, to get to the "hook" this also gives the Image depth.

Check out the paintings of Jan Vermeer.

9. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

I agree with a lot of what's been said above.

I'm a beginner in photography but know about the rules of composition through other art forms. However, while I think it's good to know these rules, I think they're most useful when you first start learning photography, or when used to help you out when you're stuck.

Learning how to see and just *know* that an image looks right seems a much better way to go, and whether I achieve it or not, that's my goal. Maybe that's when the rules have become subconscious, or when you just know how to break them too.

So many brilliant photos and other artworks have broken those rules that knowing when to break them will seem like the peak of achievement for a neophyte like me

Seri

10. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

Have a look at The Photographers Eye, Michael Freeman, published by Focal Press The book covers composition and design for better digital photos. It gives a good idea of various items such as image frame, design basics, graphic and photographic elements, composing with light and colour etc.

11. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

Ahhh complicated stuff

Why not use all of them; but the Golden Ratio is a guess but even so

12. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

Originally Posted by Mick
Hey

These four points are a way of entering the Image, a starting off point where the eye naturally goes to. The "hook" if you like, is to put an element of your composition, that you want the viewer to see, on one of these points.

very nice

On this Image, my "hook" lies at the end of a path,as you walk down there I want you to look at the texture of stone, the columns on the left take you up to the ceiling. The crossing arches lead you down back on to the path.
Becouse you have to travel through the Image, to get to the "hook" this also gives the Image depth.

Check out the paintings of Jan Vermeer.

13. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

An interesting compendium of thoughts! Let me see if I understand the flow.

1. When you first consider photography, it is difficult to determine what makes a good composition so you seek out rules to get you started.

2. Although there are many suggestions, one that comes to the forefront and is relatively easy to visualize is the Rule of Thirds.

3. As you experiment and learn, you find out about, and start to apply the Golden Ratio and many other rules.

4. In time, you find that neither the Rule of Thirds nor the Golden Ratio is best for every composition. By this time, you are beginning to recognize what rules to apply, when and where to apply them, and what elements of your image work well together to produce a pleasing composition.

5. Eventually, you unconsciously apply the principals learned as guidelines (not as constraints), and you only need to fall back to consciously applying the rules when dealing with an unfamiliar composition.

6. The key to navigating the learning process is to shoot, evaluate, get C&C, reevaluate, rinse and repeat.

Am I understanding the principals correctly?

14. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

Originally Posted by FrankMi
An interesting compendium of thoughts! Let me see if I understand the flow.

1. When you first consider photography, it is difficult to determine what makes a good composition so you seek out rules to get you started.

2. Although there are many suggestions, one that comes to the forefront and is relatively easy to visualize is the Rule of Thirds.

3. As you experiment and learn, you find out about, and start to apply the Golden Ratio and many other rules.

4. In time, you find that neither the Rule of Thirds nor the Golden Ratio is best for every composition. By this time, you are beginning to recognize what rules to apply, when and where to apply them, and what elements of your image work well together to produce a pleasing composition.

5. Eventually, you unconsciously apply the principals learned as guidelines (not as constraints), and you only need to fall back to consciously applying the rules when dealing with an unfamiliar composition.

6. The key to navigating the learning process is to shoot, evaluate, get C&C, reevaluate, rinse and repeat.

Am I understanding the principals correctly?
Copyright that and sell it to publishers. That's as perfect a summary of the situation as I've ever read.

15. Re: Golden Ratio or Rule of Thirds?

Originally Posted by Donald
Copyright that and sell it to publishers. That's as perfect a summary of the situation as I've ever read.
Seconded! Although only at stage 2, that sounds like an elegant and succinct framework for future advancement

Seri

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