1.618 : 1
The Golden Rectangle has been written about many times before. I have included a link to the Wikipedia article in the previous sentence. Rather than rehash what it is and the little hidden squares and rectangles, I will leave that to those of you curious enough to read the Wikipedia article.
I find it interesting that none of the standard paper sizes emulate this ratio precisely, given that so many ‘artists and architects’ consider the ratio aesthetically pleasing. Equally surprising, to me at least, is the notion that standard cropping software (in my personal case, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom™) doesn’t offer a golden rectangle as a standard cropping aspect ratio. There is a series of Golden Ratio compositional guides within Lightroom – activated by pressing the [ O ] key (when cropping). So today, I am going to play ratio against guides and Midas it up a bit.
As I wrote in the previous article. I like to keep a golden rectangle aspect ratio in my most-recently-used crop lists for just such an occasion. I can quick-draw it at need. It’s presence in the MRU list also forces me to to consider it every time the dialog pops up.
I first cropped the image using the custom aspect ratio of 1.618:1 (the Golden Rectangle). While the crop tool was engaged, I used the [ O ] key to cycle through the compositional overlays until I found the Golden Ratio tool. I tend to use this tool much like I do a Rule of Thirds. I place my subject (the insect) appropriately at the intersection of the ratio guides. The subject matter dictated that it is strongest if I put the bug on the lower left intersection. I bisected its body with a vertical guide along the bilateral symmetry line common to most living things. I then looked for a compelling place to place the horizontal guide. Insects, as we remember from grade school, have a three-segmented body. The anterior segment is usually the largest. It made sense to me visually to divide the body between the thorax and the abdomen.
As you can see in the final crop, the insect has plenty of space into which to look. the balance from mid-ground to background is maintained leaving our subject in the foreground. A nice balance of a smaller light area to bigger dark really helps the image pop!
Cropped to a golden rectangle and composed on a golden ratio… is it more pleasing? Well, that is up for you, the architects and artists to decide. Personally, I think it is classic… or is that classical?
Next time you are stuck looking for a shape and placement, consider this ratio – it’s golden.
Rikk Flohr © 2013