The Golden Section

Clarence River Illuka
Clarence River Illuka
It is an old tradition of composition that the Golden Section or the Golden Mean is a particularly pleasing ratio which has been used extensively since the Middle Ages by both architects and painters.

In mathematical terms the Golden Section is defined such that, a line of a given length is divided into two unequal parts, the ratio between the smaller part and the larger part should be equal to the ratio between the larger part and the entire line. Assuming that the smaller part of the line equals A and the larger part equals B then:

A : B = B : (A +B)

for a line where A + B = 10 units

the ratio equates to

A : B = 3.819 : 6.181

approx A : B = 5 : 8

This ratio of the Golden Section can be used for the following applications:

  • To give pleasant image proportions in accordance with the aspect ratio
  • To determine the position of the horizon
  • To give a composition with pleasant proportions
  • To locate the centre of interest of the picture

In the above image the horizon is placed in accordance with the ratio 5 : 8 to give a pleasing composition.