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  • Writer's pictureIan Miller

Following the Rules

Hello, fellow photographers! Today I'm going to explain classic composition used in photography. You know, the stuff they teach you in art school, like the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, and the Fibonacci spiral. Sounds boring, right? Well, not if you have a sense of humour and a bit of creativity. Let me show you how to make these old-fashioned techniques fun and fresh.


The rule of thirds is probably the most basic and widely used composition rule in photography. It divides your image into nine equal parts using two horizontal and two vertical lines. The idea is to place your main subject or point of interest along one of these lines or at one of their intersections. This creates a balanced and harmonious image that draws the viewer's eye to what matters most.

But who says you have to follow this rule all the time? Sometimes breaking the rule can create more dynamic and interesting images. For example, you can place your subject in the centre of the frame for a symmetrical and powerful effect. Or you can place it near the edge of the frame for a more dramatic and unexpected effect. Or you can even crop out part of your subject for a more abstract and artistic effect. The point is to experiment and have fun with it.


The golden ratio is another composition rule that is based on mathematics and nature. It is similar to the rule of thirds, but instead of dividing your image into nine equal parts, it divides it into sections that have a ratio of 1:1.618. This ratio is also known as the golden mean or the divine proportion, and it is said to create aesthetically pleasing and natural-looking images.


But how do you apply this rule in practice? Well, one way is to use a grid overlay that has a golden rectangle and a golden spiral on it. You can find these grids online or in some camera apps. The idea is to place your main subject or point of interest along the curve of the spiral or at one of its corners. This creates a sense of movement and depth in your image that guides the viewer's eye through it.

But again, you don't have to follow this rule religiously. Sometimes you can bend or twist the spiral to fit your image better. Or you can ignore it altogether and use your intuition instead. The golden ratio is not a magic formula that works for every image. It is just a tool that can help you improve your composition skills.


The Fibonacci spiral is another composition rule that is related to the golden ratio. It is a series of squares that have sides that are equal to the sum of the previous two squares. For example, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc. If you draw a curve that connects the opposite corners of these squares, you get a spiral that looks like a snail shell or a nautilus shell.

But what does this have to do with photography? Well, some people believe that this spiral can help you create more balanced and natural-looking images. The idea is to place your main subject or point of interest at the smallest square of the spiral or at its centre. This creates a focal point that attracts the viewer's attention.


But once again, you don't have to follow this rule blindly. Sometimes you can rotate or flip the spiral to suit your image better. Or you can use other shapes or patterns that are similar to the spiral, such as circles, ovals, arcs, or waves. Or you can forget about the spiral altogether and use your own creativity instead.


The Fibonacci spiral is not a secret code that unlocks the secrets of photography. It is just a guideline that can help you enhance your composition skills.


So there you have it: classic composition used in photography is explained in a funny way. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and learned something new today. Remember: rules are meant to be broken sometimes, so don't be afraid to experiment and have fun with your photography.

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