Golden what?

Peggy Farren 2014-01-14

By: Joe Fitzpatrick

On last week's webinar a question about the golden mean was asked while Peggy Farren was discussing the Rule of Thirds. The golden mean, also known as the golden ratio, golden section or divine proportion is the basis for a compositional guideline very similar to the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds divides an image into 9 equal sections, the familiar tic tac toe grid.

The golden mean is a bit more complicated. It divides an image into 9 sections using a mathematical formula that dates back to the ancient Greeks.

Golden Mean Grid

The result is a grid where the 5 center sections are smaller than the four corner sections. Many claim that the rule of thirds is just a simplified form of the golden mean.

With both the rule of thirds and the golden mean the center of interest is placed on one of the points, called power points, where the lines intersect or along one of the lines.

Grid comparison

Horizons can be placed on the upper or lower line. The difference between the two guidelines is subtle. Portraits often look better when the eyes are placed on a power point using the golden mean rather than the rule of thirds. portrait-golden mean-lines
portrait-rule of thirds-lines

Both of these guidelines create dynamic images with a natural balance that pleases the eye. Experiment! Try them both. portrait-golden mean-no lines
portrait-rule of thirds-no lines

The Golden Mean and the Rule of Thirds are just two of many compositional guidelines. We cover many more including the Golden Angles and Golden Spiral in Composition - the Best Class You'll Ever Take to Improve Your Photography.

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