1. ## Re: golden ratio

Originally Posted by Ken Lee
...it's good to keep an eye open for fundamental design principles.... .
I was dead serious. Phi is probably a question, the question, not an answer.
As for the answer, "Adams described his choice as "A completely ordinary number, a number not just divisible by two but also six and seven. In fact it's the sort of number that you could, without any fear, introduce to your parents. (wikiP)"

2. ## Re: golden ratio

I like the old Chinese philosophers, like Lao Tse.

Man follows Earth
Earth follows Heaven
Heaven follows the Tao
The Tao follows what is Natural

3. ## Re: golden ratio

Originally Posted by Ken Lee
It's good to have a sense of humor, and to be skeptical whenever the hyperbole starts to arise. At the same time, it's good to keep an eye open for fundamental design principles. We don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water, as they say.
I think what is interesting about it is that it arises from fundamental processes, not that fundamental processes are driven by it.

As for a design principle, it is useful, but certainly not the only sort of ratio out there. Japanese architecture follows its own set of rules and when I first went to Thailand I was struck by what I considered oddly proportioned buildings. Perhaps derived from a different set of natural forms...

I guess I'm saying that while there is some physical foundation to design, the interpretation of that into what is "beautiful" is refracted through the prism of environment and human culture.

4. ## Re: golden ratio

I'd counter that just one ratio of sides to height is limiting and monotonous. Take a look at Willem De Kooning's large paintings. Quite a few have something like a 6 to 7 aspect ratio or 7 to 8. More of a near square. To my eye, very elegant. Seen in the abstract, by contrast a golden ratio rectangle looks brickish and ordinary. But it's all just taste, and ignores the fact that we usually are relating some sort of subject matter to the rectangular edge. I'd say the subject and it's interpretation should dictate the rectangle, not any given ratio.

5. ## Re: golden ratio

"I think what is interesting about it is that it arises from fundamental processes, not that fundamental processes are driven by it."

That's an excellent point, but perhaps it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg conundrum.

6. ## Re: golden ratio

Originally Posted by CG
I'd counter that just one ratio of sides to height is limiting and monotonous.
Some would say that the form of haiku is likewise limiting and monotonous. But what amazing things the Japanese (and others) have done with it over the centuries.

When it comes to expression, sometimes limits = freedom.

7. ## Re: golden ratio

Dear CG,

You are perfectly correct in your view, regarding what you believe to be better for your images or what you like to view, specifically the dimensions that fit your image...

I prefer to use the Golden Ratio in two dimensions and three dimensions, compared to arbitrarily choosing a ratio that suits the image, since I find this ratio very pleasing to my eye, and to any structure I may envision. That said, we are all different when we think outside the box, and we all have different artistic tastes, but when we compare each other at the DNA level, the Golden Ratio seems to be buried in the sugars. Go figure...

jim k

8. ## Re: golden ratio

Please remember, it was the Greeks who successfully used this, not the Geeks. But
the aspect ratio of 35mm film, 6x9, or 5x7 comes closer than our usual 4x5 or 8x10,
which I shoot for practicality, even though I find the more stretched-out ratio more
visually appealing. I've often thought, if I could have only one camera, it should be
a 5X7. Strangely, however, I almost never substantially crop my shots. What I shoot
with the 8x10 looks 8x10. I'm comfortable composing with whatever groundglass or
viewfinder happens to be in front of me.

9. ## Re: golden ratio

Drew’s observation (just above) raises a curious question that our photographic philosophers and film mathematicians may be able to address better than I can:

Why no “golden rectangle” film sizes? (i.e., formed by the golden ratio.)

And, why do we see so few “golden rectangle”-sized crops on this forum?

After all, “The Golden Rectangle produces a pleasing shape,” Jim Kitchen says. And he means both the image boundary & the compositional matter itself. (For an example of the rectangle’s dimensions, see the first image in his post #3 – it’s the larger rectangle formed by the two smaller ones.)

For example, 3x5 or 5x8 film would have sides that “come closer” to the golden ratio than more familiar film sizes do – even closer than the 2:3 ratio of small format.

And does anyone here – on a regular basis – crop in the darkroom, or size in Photoshop, to approximate the “golden rectangle”? Have they ever created “golden rectangle”-sized images and placed them inside larger frames w/ “standard” dimensions?

-----
Numbers for quick reference:

Golden ratio = 1.618 (rounded)

Ratios of “missing” film sizes:
5:3 = 1.67 (rounded)
8:5 = 1.6

Ratios of “common” film sizes:
3:2 & 9:6 = 1.5
7:6 = 1.17 (rounded)
5:4 & 10:8 = 1.25
7:5 = 1.4
14:11 = 1.27 (rounded)

10. ## Re: golden ratio

Dear Heroique,

I know I do, and I do post images that conform to the Golden Rectangle...

I create a Golden Rectangle image from any 8X10 full negative image that I may be uncomfortable with, such as an image that has an extreme boring featureless sky, or I will tighten any image for clarity and balance. I have Golden Ratio dimensions that I use to crop my 8X10 images, and when I frame an image, the framing dimensions mimic the mounted image's dimensions.

jim k

Such as these...

Free Range, Base of Armstrong Mountain, Alberta, Canada, 1985

Natural Bridge, Kicking Horse River, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada, 1986

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