Rule Of Thirds And Golden Ratio

By | 13/11/2022

The golden ratio composition is a mathematical rule that can be used to create aesthetically pleasing images. Rule of thirds is a simpler guideline that tin also produce good results. In this commodity, nosotros volition compare and contrast these two methods.

A DSLR camera taking a landscape image
© Karol D (

What is the Golden Spiral in Photography?

The golden spiral is a compositional tool. It is as well known every bit the Fibonacci spiral or golden ratio. The gilt spiral is office of every natural object. It can be written as a mathematical equation of A ÷ B = (A + B) ÷ A = one.61803398875. In a curt form ratio, information technology is 1:i.618.

Like many other compositional methods, classic painters were the showtime to utilize this technique. Nosotros prefer images with a sense of harmony, and the aureate ratio is i manner to rest your image. Information technology keeps leading the viewer’southward eyes around your image in a balanced way.

An aerial photo of a boat at sea with the golden ratio grid overlayed

The great thing most the golden screw is that yous can use it in eight different ways. You can apply information technology in four means in portrait orientation.

the golden ratio grid used in different way in a portrait orientation

And yous can employ it in four ways in mural orientation.

the golden ratio grid used in different way in a landscape orientation

What is the Rule of Thirds?

The dominion of thirds is some other compositional rule. Our cameras and often our image editing software tin can help united states of america to use the rule of thirds.

Imagine dividing your scene into thirds. First, divide it horizontally, then vertically.

Then place ii imaginary horizontal lines on your scene. One is at ane-third and the second at two-thirds. Adjacent, place two lines vertically, again at one-third and two-thirds. You lot become a grid that divides your scene into 9 rectangular areas.

A red grid showing the rule of thirds grid (two horizontal lines and two vertical lines)

Place the object at one of the intersecting points to use the dominion of thirds for an object or subject. This could be top left or right, or bottom left or correct.

By placing the objects hither, nosotros find the image more than aesthetically pleasing. It is a meliorate visual effect than placing the object in the middle.

For landscapes, don’t place the horizon at the halfway mark. Instead, reach for the one-tertiary and ii-thirds distribution, respectively. The rule of thirds is about breaking the apartment and conventional angles.

For case, if y’all photograph a water scene, compose 1-third water and ii-thirds sky or vice versa. This depends on where the involvement lies.

Of course, yous can use these two rules together. This makes the photo composition much more interesting and well thought out.

Which Composition Rule is Better?

When it comes to the aureate ratio vs the rule of thirds, the decision depends on what y’all photograph.

Use the Rule of Thirds to Add Interest to a Minimal Scene

As a general rule, the dominion of thirds is best used for the most minimal scenes. These scenarios don’t accept much distraction in terms of depth and alignment. You lot won’t find many different subjects in the heart footing or background.

What if your focal point conspicuously emphasizes one specific subject area? Then it’s worth placing information technology at an intersecting signal of a ix filigree. These would include elementary portraits or images of ane object.

But it wouldn’t work for product photography. Here, the object is the main focus, and inventiveness is less important. The viewer’s optics volition move around if more is happening in your scene.

Majestic photo of a Golden retriever dog standing on the edge of a cliff with the rule of thirds composition grid overlayed

Utilise the Golden Ratio to Emphasize Movement

Using the gilt ratio concept, you motion the viewer’south optics along the line. Then their optics residuum on the end of the spiral. This is all-time used for travel images where many things happen in the scene. They could be people, buildings, and other subjects or objects.

The golden ratio is also often used to add together or emphasize movement in a picture. Y’all can use it to evoke a dynamic feeling in your image.

A photo of a girl on a swing overlayed with golden ratio composition grid

Choose the Best Compositional Rule for the Scene

When nosotros enter the globe of photography, nosotros all acquire the dominion of thirds. It is by far the most common compositional dominion. We find images more pleasing when focal points sit on the intersections determined by the rule of thirds.

But which compositional rule we utilize always depends on the scene. What if we have a scenario where non much is happening? Then we can use the rule of thirds. Information technology helps make the motion-picture show look more exciting.

The golden ratio is more circuitous. We can apply it in scenes that show motility. Every bit a general rule, always look for a motion that mimics a certain radial bend throughout the frame to guide the middle.

An ocean wave overlayed with golden ratio composition grid


When it comes to these two common compositional rules, the final decision depends very much on the scene you are capturing. The dominion of thirds might be easier to use at the beginning. The gilt ratio adds dynamism and emphasizes movement.

Recollect, compositional rules are but guidelines. As yous train your creative eye, yous kickoff to compose photos in your ain way. They might not even fit any rule. Oft, these are the most unique and exciting photographs.