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Understanding the Golden Ratio in Design and Photography

Understanding the Golden Ratio in Design and Photography



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Calculating The Golden Ratio

There is a lot of math behind how the Golden Ratio is calculated. But designers, artists, and photographers aren’t usually high-level mathematicians. To benefit the algebraically disinclined, let’s keep it simple.

The Ratio is approximately 1.618 to 1. It’s approximate bec...

The Ratio was first described by the ancient Greek mathematicians Phidias, Plato, and Euclid, as early as c. 450 B.C. It has been studied and refined for two and a half millennia.

The Ratio is also closely related to the Fibonacci sequence. This mathematical pattern shows numbers ...

One of the most common arguments against the importance of Phi is that, while Phi can be applied to many things in nature, careful analysis shows that it is seldom mathematically perfect. When the spirals of a nautilus shell are measured, their ratio to one another is not exactly 1.618.


It has often been claimed that the Rule of Thirds in photography is a simplification of Phi. It creates roughly the same result while being easier to apply in the field or on the go. Does the Rule of Thirds help photographers create more captivating images? It does.

Does it have to be appl...

Whether we realize it or not, humans can’t help but find objects that conform to Phi as intrinsically beautiful.

As artists and creators, we can use this predisposition to our benefit. By incorporating the Ratio in our design and photography, we can improve the quality and beauty of our w...

In algebra, it is usually shown with the variables a and b.

But when working with visual arts, it’s easiest to apply it geometrically. The most common example is the use of rectangles. A Golden Rectangle is one whose short edge is 1, while the long side is 1.618. The recta...

The Golden Ratio is a naturally occurring phenomenon that can be observed in the spirals of a seashell, rainbands of a hurricane, petals of a flower, or the leaves of a plant. It’s only natural for artists to mimic the beauty of nature.

Golden Ratio in Design

In design, layouts are the perfect place to start applying the Ratio. Two-column layouts are extremely common. But weighing the columns differently adds a dynamic flow to any publications. Webpages, in particular, use the sidebar concept to apply a dynamic, weighted feel that works naturally.


Many iconic logos can be distilled down to the ratio. By using 1:1.618 to all manner of shapes, cutouts, fills, and patterns, the symmetry of design can really come together. Search online, and you can find some excellent analyses of how some of the most iconic corporate brands benefit from the u...

Many photographers use the Rule of Thirds as a simplified form of the Ratio. In the Rule of Thirds, you simply divide the frame into one-third sections vertically and horizontally.

Important elements are placed at the intersections of the lines. The lines can also be used in the photo its...

Another use of Phi in photography is to capture objects that already possess it. Plant leaves, distant spiral galaxies, flower petals, and seashells are alluring objects that make great subjects.

The challenge is to recognize how the golden spiral plays a part in making that beauty and to...

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The Fibonacci sequence is used in art, composition, maths, nature, music, investing and more.



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