The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, 1492The golden section is perceived and used by most humans, whether they know it or not. By thinking about it and use it in you photos or other graphics, you can get a great composition easily.

The golden ratio works like this mathematically:

If you have a small section and a large section, the relation between the two is the same as the relation between the large section and total section (the sum of the two sections together). After doing some math we find that if the smaller section is 1, the bigger section is ~1.62. This means that the golden section is positioned at ~62% of the two together.

You should not get obsessed with this number when it comes to design and you should not use it with too much exactness. It’s really just a good hint about what humans generally like in composition. Since we naturally like it — it’s easy to use. You don’t have to measure or use a template for it, you just have to know about it. Since we like it, we easily guess where the position of the golden section is.

To use it in a composition, just take out the main element in the image and position it in the golden section. The hard part could be to identify what element in the photo that is the main element or the most significant line. You have to identify what the eye looks at first or what you want it to look at. Try to identify lines in the image or objects that differ from the rest. Here are a few examples:

  • If you have a whole person in an big environment, you naturally look at the person.
  • If you just have a person, the main element is the eyes of the person.
  • If you have a landscape, the horizon is often the most significant line.

The example to the left is unmodified and the photo to the right was cropped.