Tag Archives: Ratios

Composition: The Rule of Thirds

Shawn M. Kent "Solitude" (2001) CC by-nc-sa

Shawn M. Kent “Solitude” (2001) CC by-nc-sa

It is essential that developing photographers have a firm understanding on compositional principles. This is the first in a series of articles where we will be talking about the rules of composition. Starting with the very basics and working up to the more complex. This first tutorial will talk about the classic rule of thirds composition rule.

Now this is the part of the tutorial where we say the obligatory “there are no rules in photography”.

I hate that statement. Of course there are rules! Rules are broken all the time, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valid rules, or that you should ignore them. They exist for a reason and this article will dissect those reasons.

As well this is not a tutorial written only for beginners. I meet many pro photographers who only know the very basic concepts of the rule of thirds. For that reason I have tried to go as in depth as possible to dissect the principle.

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Composition Part 2: Fibonacci and phi Ratios

Figure 4 - Sven Seiler "Blue World" 2007 CC by-nc-nd

Figure 1 – Sven Seiler “Blue World” 2007 CC by-nc-nd

In our last post we spoke about the foundational rule of composition, the Rule of thirds. The next compositional principle we will be talking about is the Fibonacci number sequence and the phi ratio. The Fibonacci number sequence and it’s close associate the phi ratio are known by a variety of names, usually denoting the remarkable properties of these mathematical principles. They have been called the divine ration, the god ratio, and others. This is due to the fact that these mathematical principles can be found everywhere, from the structures of atoms, to nautilus shells, to human anatomy, and even the arrangement of the constellations and galaxies.

From a psychological standpoint this makes these principles extremely powerful if used in visual communication. The human subconcious is comforted by familiarity. Seeing an image that conforms to geometric arrangements that are familiar has a psychological response that is positive and actually feeds dopamine to the brain which makes us happy.

Fibonnaci’s sequence is a remarkable series of numbers that correspond to a ratio we can use in composition. This article will introduce you to the theory and familiarize you with the concepts so you can begin using the ratio in your own work.
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