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Up for Discussion – The Golden Ratio

Today’s post is from Sarah Vercoe, I saw a post she had written on the Golden Ratio and I asked her if she would be interested in doing a post here to explain it to you.  I first heard about this at art school, though it was a little different, but the idea of the Golden Mean, and how some faces are considered more beautiful than others, and how the Golden Mean can be used to demonstrate it.  What Sarah is talking about is a little different and a lot more relevant to photography.

Composition with impact: Using the Golden Ratio in Photography

By Sarah Vercoe

Barn, Grand Teton NP

Composition is one of the most important aspects of photography, one that can make or break a photograph. A strong composition can give an ordinary subject appeal, just as poor composition can leave an otherwise appealing subject with no impact at all. The variety of composition guidelines available to photographers is seemingly endless, with some argued as being better than others. The Golden Ratio is one of those composition guidelines that is said to be just that little bit better for creating a photograph with impact.

The Golden Ratio, a ratio of 1:1.618, is said to have been ‘discovered’ by a mathematician named Leonardo Fibonacci in the 12th century A.D. when he devised a series of numbers to create a composition that is pleasing to the eye. Also known as the Golden Mean, Phi, and Divine Proportion, among others, the Golden Ratio has been used for centuries as a design principle in everything from graphic design, painting, architecture and photography. Regardless of the name attached, or where the idea of using the ratio originated, the Golden Ratio as a composition tool in photography can help us produce photographs with impact.

It is said that humans are naturally drawn to the ratio due to the perfect division of space that is pleasing to the eye, which is perfect for photography. This may be due to the fact that the ratio can be found throughout nature, in flowers, shells, plants, even the human ear is said to be shaped in a way that the Golden Ratio can be seen. Attracting viewers to a photograph through a composition that is based on nature, and naturally drawn to, seems like perfect logic. Creating a photograph that will attract viewers is something almost all photographers strive for in their work. So, how can we compose a photograph using the Golden Ratio to naturally attract viewers? There are a variety of ways in which the Golden Ratio can be applied to photography. Following are just two of the most commonly favoured compositions among photographers who are in-the-know.

The Fibonacci Spiral

The Fibonacci Spiral is formed from a series of squares based on a complex formula using Fibonacci’s numbers. This is achieved by adding together pairs of numbers to create squares, starting at 1×1, repeating 1×1, then 2×2, 3×3, 5×5, 8×8, 13×13, etc., the series of numbers can go on forever. When a point is placed strategically at the diagonal corners of each square and connected by a line, a spiral shape is formed throughout the frame itself as per the diagram below.

Fibonnaci Spiral

These points are considered points of interest in the frame and key focal points in a scene can be positioned to fall on or near them. As you will notice, the most important points of focus fall around a small rectangular area at one of the corners in the frame. This is what I like to call the ‘sweet spot’ and where I like to place the most important elements of a scene. The remaining points on the spiral can then be used as complementing focal points to incorporate other elements into the overall scene. The sweet spot acts as a starting point to lead the eye around the photograph along the spiral.

This version of the Golden Ratio is perhaps the most favoured composition in photography. I like to think this is due to the way the spiral leads the viewer around multiple complementing points in the frame, causing them to linger on the photograph.

Robson Square, Vancouver

The Phi Grid

The Phi Grid is formed when the Golden Ratio is applied so that the frame is divided into sections that are 1:1.618:1 as per the diagram below. The intersecting lines of the grid are concentrated in the centre of the frame resulting in more weight being given to the four outer corners of the frame. Placing key focal points at the intersecting lines of the Phi Grid, the Golden Ratio’s sweet spots, will allow for maximum impact in the photograph. This is due largely to the fact that the intersecting lines are at that point that is considered the perfect division of space in the frame.

Phi Grid

Another way that composing a photograph using the Phi Grid can be beneficial is to use it as a guide for the placement of a horizon line. By using the Phi Grid as a guide for where to place the horizon line will allow the horizon line to be less apparent and offer a good separation of space. You might notice that the Phi Grid looks quite similar to the Rule of Thirds. Although no one knows for sure, and there are a variety of fables that address the history of the Rule of Thirds, one suggestion is that the Rule of Thirds was devised as a simpler version of Golden Ratio.

Sunrise Kailua, Hawaii

The Golden Ratio in my own work

The Golden Ratio is often my go-to guideline when composing a photograph, particularly the Fibonacci Spiral. When I compose for the Golden Ratio I will envision a rectangle in the corner of the frame that places my main subject near the sweet spot. When I can utilise the Fibonacci Spiral I will also look for complementing points of interest that I can try to incorporate in the scene along the other points of interest. This is the reason I prefer to use the Fibonacci Spiral. I am of the belief that incorporating complementary points of interest to the main focal point where possible will draw the viewer in and lead them around the photograph.

As with everything in photography there are no fixed rules and composition choices are unique to both the scene you are photographing and the photographer. The Golden Ratio is a good technique to keep in your mind as a guideline when considering the composition options for a scene, and you may just end up with a photograph that has that little bit more impact.

Following are a series of photographs where I have applied the Golden Ratio in my own work. See if you can pick out which of the Golden Ratio compositions I have used as a guide.

Eagle, Alaska

Granville Island, Vancouver

Lower Falls, Yellowstone NP

Mountain view, Alaska

Surf Festival, Noosa

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Science World, Vancouver

A big thank you to Leanne for allowing me to discuss the Golden Ratio in today’s Up for Discussion.

Please feel free to reach out to me at if you have any questions about the Golden Ratio. You can view more of my landscape and travel photography on my blog Sarah Vercoe Images

I would also like to thank Sarah for taking the time to write this for us.  Please take a look at her blog, she has some amazing work there.  

Introductions – Ryan Photography

Today’s introduction is actually for a couple, a married couple, the Ryan’s and their blog, Ryan Photography. It has been a strange one doing this, as when you go through their blog you can’t tell whose photos are whose, yet for me, I have more contact with Bren, so I hope I have picked some of her photos as well.  I really first got to know Bren through Facebook, she liked my page and then we became friends there as well.  It is funny how through WordPress you meet people, and in different routes to the ones you expect.


I think for me one of the things I loved about their blog is their subject matter.  To me the UK means a few things, and the above is one of those things, old buildings, castles.  There are so many photos on their blog with these as the subject matter.

I ask them why they take photos.

We started out by taking up photography as a hobby. We wanted to do something together and something that got us both off of the settee and when my husband asked for a new camera for Christmas, that is when the idea hit me… why don’t we take up photography… that way we can go out and about and enjoy the great outdoors and do something that hopefully we would both like.

Until then photography had never entered our heads… but once we started to visit places we got the bug and that is it… we go into meltdown if the heavens open and we don’t go out somewhere. One thing we have noticed though, is the things that you would normally ignore. You go to places and then all of a sudden you get to see the perfect shot or a perfect place to photograph.

To us photography is an enjoyment, a pleasure, something we love doing…. and we both would hate for it to become a chore… or for us to get the feeling that we must go out this weekend… I just love the outdoors and the wonderful scenery, architecture we have around the South East of England and I want the thrill of photography those wonderful scenes to be with me forever.

img_9668English gardens can be some of the best, and in Australia so many people have tried to create those English style gardens here, which can be hard because our summers are a lot harsher than English ones.  Throughout the blog you will see lots of great examples of flowers and macros of flowers.

I asked what their inspiration was.

There are so many people, like yourself, that inspires me… Never before had I thought about adding a texture to a photograph until I read your blog Leanne. I had seen textured photographs, and always admired them… but didn’t feel confident enough to try this technique. Then when you started to show people how easy it was to transform an image by using texture, that was it, I followed your instructions and before I knew it I was hooked.

We both like to take pictures of landscapes, seascapes, flowers and architecture. One thing we are both uncomfortable with, is taking portrait pictures. Ansel Adams inspired my monochrome photography and the HDR images on our blog are inspired by the works of Serge Ramelli and Trey Ratcliff. Lately my inspiration has come from the beauty of flowers… the delicate petals and the vibrant colours.

Lately we have been driving through the villages of Kent and Sussex and have started to notice the Churches doted around and some of them have such beautiful architecture to them… perhaps in the future we might even consider photographing some of these beautiful religious buildings.


Ruins with beautiful gardens.  I really want to be able to go to England one day and visit some of the ruins.  The what was and what is sort of thing.  I love how when you go through the blog there are lots of these, of we know they love photographing architecture, so it makes sense to see lots of these.

I asked how long they had been taking photos for.

We have only been taking photographs since January 2012, but looking back on the photographs we took way back then and what we take now… we can see how we’ve improved… and we still have far more to learn.

Then I asked if there was anything special about the way they worked.

We don’t work in any special fashion… however we now tend to look at the shot and if we don’t like it, walk away or to to recompose it from another angle. Where as before we would click away merrily and hope and pray we got a good shot. One thing I have found that I do, without thinking about it, is this… I tend to take several shots of a flower at different angles and then go with the image that I think is best. I look on digital photography in this manner; it doesn’t cost you anything to keep taking shots. It isn’t like you have to spend pounds and pounds on development nowadays so you can afford to keep clicking till your hearts content.


There are images were you can see the experimentation going on and what they are trying to do.  It is always good to see people trying new things and seeing what works for them.

What do they use was another question.

We are primarily Canon users. I use the EOS 1100D and my husband uses the 600D. Our favourite lenses have to be the CanonEF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II and the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. Our other lenses are the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6III, Canon, EF-S 18-55mm f/3.-5.6 IS II and Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Most of our shots are hand held shots and we use Lightroom and Photoshop to process our images. We also have a bridge camera, Panasonic Lumix FZ-48, which does have a good zoom on it… which we sometimes use. The only problem we found with this camera is that it doesn’t shoot in RAW.


I love all the flowers, some of them I recognise, others I don’t.

I asked where in the world they were.

We are from the South East of England… Kent to be precise… but we travel to East and West Sussex, London, Surrey and Essex to photograph the countryside and country houses. Later next year we are off to San Francisco and the Gold Coast… including the Grand Canyon… I just can’t wait to photograph that wonderful scenery.

I want to take this opportunity to thank both the Ryan’s for giving me permission to feature their blog, Ryan Photography, and work here.  I hope you will all go and visit Ryan Photography and take in the English countryside.  Here are some photos for you to enjoy, quite a colourful gallery.

Weekend Wanderings – Chasing the Moon

Yesterday afternoon I took off with some friends down to Sorrento and to the back beach there.  The plan was to take some photos of the beach before sunset, then photograph the sunset, go out for dinner, then come back to photograph the moon and get some shots of the beach in moonlight.  All day, before we left it would rain, then the sun would come out, then it would rain again.  We went anyway, hoping it would be okay.


The first part worked out fine, we got to the beach and took photos of the rocks.  The surf was wild, and some parts of the rocks where the waves were hitting them were pretty amazing.  Well good for Australia.  I loved the way the afternoon sun was hitting this rock.


We sort of got a sunset.  It rained a bit at the start and there was the promise of something brilliant, but it really didn’t amount to much.  I am showing you this image because it did rain and I think this effect is from water on the end of my lens. I’ve never seen anything like it before.  I had my camera set up to take a photo every 10 seconds.  I was going to see if I could do a time lapse series, but I don’t think I got enough images, and the rain did spoil some of them.


While we were having dinner we could see that the moon had risen and that it looked wonderful in the sky.  We could see the light from it reflecting on the water in the bay.  After dinner we just went across the road to take some photos of it.  I think this was the clearest image I got all night.


Then the clouds rolled in, and we could see where it was a lot of the time, but we couldn’t see it.

stpaul-beach-moonlight-rain-moonWe went down to the beach, but this was the best I got.  It was raining a lot, I couldn’t get my camera to focus, and I was yelling a lot.  I was so angry with the weather.  It has been so frustrating this winter with all the rain we have had.  I am so sick of it, some rain is nice, but not constantly.  I expect it to be cold, but seriously this is ridiculous.

We went home and I didn’t get some of the shots I wanted, but it was a lovely part on of the beach and I think we will go there again some time.  Of course as we were on the freeway coming home the clouds parted and there was the moon for all to see.  I thought I would take some when I got home, just out my front door.  Of course, by the time I got home and got the camera ready the clouds were covering it again.  I did wait a little while and I managed to get some.

I forgot to mention that part of the reason I was keen to get the moon was because I had borrowed a Sigma 150-500mm lens from a friend to take photos with.  Oh well, you can’t have everything, I’m sure the rain will stop and I will get to take some photos of the moon and the beach on other trips. Here is a gallery with some images, sorry, lots of the moon.


Weekend Wanderings – The Sand Around Lake Albacutya

A couple of weeks ago I showed you some photos around Lake Albacutya and how it is regenerating after the fires that went through the area in January, but while we were out Jonesy took us to see some of the sand dunes that are around the Lake, some areas that were spared from the fires, some not.


I took a similar photo to this in January and where all that green is in the background, it was all black.  It was dark and it looked like it was about to rain, which it did as we were leaving here, but not for long. The whole Mallee and Wimmera is made up of sandy soil and so the sand dunes up there are very common.  I think they are from the lakes, when the lakes dry up their sandy bottoms are blown away.

I just thought I might briefly explain what the Mallee is, I’ve had a few people ask me.  It is more a where, and it is a large area in the North West corner of the state of Victoria in Australia.  It is possibly the driest part of the state.  Though Lake Albacutya could be more in the area underneath, call the Wimmera.  Both areas are very dry.  I found a map for you so you can see where they are.

Figure9The map is from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.


I really liked taking photos of the sand, and it is something I would like to do again.  There is something really wonderful about sand, the patterns and textures, I don’t think you could tire of photographing it. Then there is the lack of life, or how things grow in it, or should that be struggle to grow in it.

lake-albacutya-sand-dunes-8Like this.

Sand dunes are interesting because they are always changing and moving.  They move constantly, rolling with the wind.  Apparently Parks Victoria are trying to stop them moving.  Something I don’t understand, if it is natural for the sand dunes to move, then why do things to stop them.  Then in other situations, Parks Management say that you can’t do things because that interferes with natural way things evolve.  It is very confusing.


There are patterns everywhere in the sand dunes for you to follow.  It was great following them and seeing what sort of images I could get.


After Jonesy had driven us around, he took us back to his new retreat, Lucky Pines.  He lit the fire and we had a coffee.  I was fascinated with photographing the fire.  I do like fire, I should just state that I don’t just light fires, or anything like that, but I do love seeing it in fireplaces and such.  I was amazed at how well the fire photographed, and I took lots.  It seemed too weird to be sitting around a fire on a very cold day, when several months before it was fire that had caused so much damage.

I have more photos for you now and I will put them into a gallery.  I really enjoy doing these photos of the environment and I think it is a direction I would like to go in a lot more.  I also think that many people who are not from Australia might find that theses images are more like how they had thought Australia was.  It is a very dry country and this area and the Mallee is very much a dry area, and I think it is the beginning of what we call the outback, though people up there might disagree with me.

Here is the gallery.  I hope you enjoy some weekend wanderings this weekend.  I’m off to the beach, hopefully the weather will improve.

Friday’s Bits and Bobs

Queen-victoria-market-produce-morning-8Another week gone, the time is flying this year, although possibly no more than any other. It has been a little quieter this week for me, and I’ve managed to spend more time at home sorting things. My girls have been in Sydney so it has been very quiet during the day, just Tiddles and me. Our cat, Tiddles, has been very clingy though, he is funny when people are away and you can see that he is confused. He is asleep now on the coffee table on a soft toy, the heater is warming him up, though his heat pack is very warm under him. He isn’t spoiled at all, no not at all. So what I have been doing this week.

Making Video Presentations

Queen-victoria-market-produce-morning-10I downloaded the trial version of Camtasia last week and this week I’ve been trying to learn how to use it.  I have been having a lot of fun with it.  It has been good to try out lots of different things with it.  If you follow my News Blog on my website then you will have seen some of the videos that I have done so far. I have been trying to record what I do to images when I am processing them, then speeding them up and attaching music to them.  I think it gives people a quick idea of what I do when I am processing an image.  It is just a glimpse, but I know I enjoy watching videos like that myself, so I hope others do as well.  The response has been good so far.

Of course, one of the best uses, I hope, will be for Online Photography Classes. I hope to test it out soon, with a session that is coming up.  It would be good to record the session and then let my client have a copy of it for future reference.  Hopefully it will be a great success.  Not sure about some aspects of it, but I am sure we will work it out.  It has been good for doing small tutorials for her Queen-victoria-market-produce-morning-5on specific things and then sending them to her.

Another reason I got it, and perhaps the one that I am excited about the most, is for doing time lapse videos and slideshow presentations of my work. I have redone the one for Lake Albacutya using Camtasia and it was so much better.  I had a lot more control on what was happening.  I still need to work out some things, but once I learn how to use it properly I am hoping I can do some really great things like this.  Would love to do a lot more of them from places up in the Mallee.

Really that is all I have been doing this week, trying to learn new software, which isn’t a bad thing.  I had to work out how to use it and see if it would be worthwhile purchasing it.  I had considered purchasing it once before, about 18 months ago, but I couldn’t see the point back then spending $300 on Queen-victoria-market-produce-morning-1software to do tutorials for other people, and I wasn’t really getting anything for it, so I didn’t buy it and I stopped doing the video tutorials.  I think I can see why I should get it now, and this time it is for me, though I won’t go back to doing the tutorials, there is already enough on the internet.

My husband can be so funny about buying things, but he changed his mind the other night when I did the following for him.  He rides a bicycle to work, and has a GoPro camera mounted on his helmet.  He gave me the footage of one trip into the city, and I put it into Camtasia and then speed it up to about 4 minutes, added some music and gave it back it to him.  He loves his video and thinks I should buy the software now.  LOL, if you want to see where he rides his bike, here is the link, Off-road ride to work – 20.5km.

One On One Photography Session Photos

Today’s photos are all from a One on One Session I did last week in the city.  My client was here from WA and we spent a lovely, early, morning at the Queen Victoria Market, so the photos in this Queen-victoria-market-produce-morning-12post are from that morning.  It was great being there so early, though 6am is a hard time to find good coffee.

Social Snappers

The first Social Snappers excursion is this coming week, off to the docklands, so that should be a lot of fun.  I really haven’t explored that area enough, so I am looking forward to doing that.

That is about it for this week. I hope you have had time to go out and take photos and do some things, or just relax.

Here are the photos from above and a few others.

Inspiring Quiet Thursdays

Just recently I have been doing some images so the writers who follow me can try and respond to the image with some writing. I know these posts are more for the writers, and I hope you don’t mind, though while doing the processing on this image I recorded what I did, and will put a short video of it on my other blog later today.  I must warn you, the video will be speed up a lot, so you will just get an idea of what I did.


I hope the writers here find this image interesting enough to write about.  I love this old building and while I was taking this image the idea came to me. For the photographers, this is something I really want to do more of.  I like planning and executing images like this.

As in other weeks, please leave your poems, or links here in the comments section so other people can enjoy what you have written. I look forward to seeing what you have written.

Monochrome Madness Week 19

Welcome to another week of Monochrome Madness and it seems the madness is continuing.  I have started finding myself doing monochrome images that aren’t for this, which I think is fantastic. I just want to explain something too, I don’t put information here on this post about the images or about the people submitting them because I think you should go to their blogs or their links and meet them that way.  I think of these posts as the first step in the introduction and it is up to you to take it further.


My image this week is from the same place as last weeks, the 100 year old shearing shed that I got to photograph when I was up in the Mallee.  I have done a post on the image over on my other blog, My Image for MM19, and I did something new, I did a video of how I processed it.  It has been sped up and has music with it as well.


Here is Laura Macky’s image and as usual, you can go to her blog to find out more information about it, she has written the following post on it, The Door – Monochrome Madness.

Don’t forget if you like the MMC and would like to submit your own image then there are instructions at the end of this post on how you should do that.  Please remember to follow them.  It is great getting new people entering along with those that do it each week.  This challenge was set up so we would do more black and white, so if think you don’t do enough, then this is most definitely something you should consider. Now here is the gallery.

Now, if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is
  • The image size should be as small as it can be, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.  I respect your copyright and would never keep any of the images.


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