golden ratio

The "Golden spiral” has always fascinated me. 
It’s based on a mathematical formula of the Golden ratio, it’s observed in nature and taught as a basic rule of composition in painting, photography, film and architecture. The Golden ratio resonates with a human's sense of beauty and balance, it’s perceived as natural and satisfying, and our eyes naturally search for it wherever we look. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks knew about it and regarded Golden Ratio as an aesthetically pleasing. 

The Golden spiral is considered to be very graceful and classically beautiful. The most important feature of the image should be placed at the beginning of the spiral, and then if possible should follow its route. Then this image will appeal to our eyes as right, balanced and satisfying.

I opened my portfolio, and decided to check if some of my favorite photos follow the Golden spiral. The result made me smile:

original photo by Stuart Corlett for Pathumwan princess hotel. 

How do we find this Golden proportion?
Golden ratio is a special number, approximately equal to 1.618. The ancient Greeks associated this number with perfection. 

Golden rectangle is a rectangle whose sides are in the golden ratio. It can be divided into a square and a smaller rectangle, that is another golden rectangle. This division can continue on into infinity (yellow image below).

image from
The Golden Ratio is also defined by a sequence of numbers, where each number is the sum of the previous two numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 etc (the Fibonacci sequence). If we take about 20 numbers from the sequence, the ratio of the last two numbers will always be around 1.618

(on the left) Squares drawn with the widths from the Fibonacci sequence can fit perfectly together as tiles. Connecting the opposite corners of these squares by drawing circular arcs creates a curve – the Fibonacci spiral.

image from

A Golden spiral is very similar to the Fibonacci spiral. It's based on a series of golden rectangles, each having a golden ratio of 1.618. As the golden rectangle includes the infinite number of smaller rectangles the spiral continues on into infinity (outside and inside itself).

Rule of thirds.
Very often beginner photographers place the center of interest right in the middle of the photo, making images more predictable, static and less artistic than images with an off-center composition. Photography tutorials suggest to follow the "rule of thirds”, when the image is divided into thirds both horizontally and vertically, creating 9 cells on a 3x3 grid. This grid can often be seen on camera viewfinders. The subject of interest, (the focal point of interest) should be aligned with one of the points where those lines cross. The "rule of thirds” works, as it’s a simplified version of the Golden ratio, because it's easier to mentally picture dividing an image into thirds rather than imagine a Fibonacci or Golden spiral.

Here are some more examples:
original photo by Lily LLiillyy. Portfolio photoshoot.
original photo by Dark Posterize for "Rooftop Studio Bangkok" project.

Of course not all the beautiful photos follow the rule of spiral, or even the rule of thirds. As it’s said after we know the rule, we can break the rule, following our natural aesthetic sense.

Photographers that took these photos didn't force me to pose for hours, so that they could calculate the position of the logarifmic spiral and fit me into it. But somehow they made a photo with this exact composition, somehow from numerous photos these ones were chosen as the finals, and it was nice to find that the ancient and eternal Golden spiral is there.