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  #1  
Old 04-21-2005, 04:34 PM
khmelins khmelins is offline
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Default 1.618033988749894848204586834365638117720309179805

So, this is the Golden Ratio.

And I'm confused. So many people talking about the Rule of Thirds, how it can help you to compose a picture, how it comes from painting and other forms of art to photography, the relation to the Golden Ratio, the aesthetics behind it..

So here is my question, what is exactly the relation between this number and the Rule of Thirds? And I mean exactly, this is maths after all.

And another question which maybe related or not to this subject. What are the historical reasons for the 2x3 format of the most commonly used films? I know for example that the paper format of the A system, I mean A5, A4, A3.. formats, are based on the square root of 2.

anton
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  #2  
Old 04-24-2005, 08:19 PM
bboss bboss is offline
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Default Re: 1.61803398874989484820458683436563811772030917980

Hi Anton,
I found some interesting info on the golden section (as used in architecture and art)

here.

As far as I understand it, the rule of thirds is basically a simplification of the golden number (a rounding up if you like) to give a meaningless justification as to why photos look better with the subject not in the middle (sometimes only). You may as well multiply the mass of an electron by e for all the help it can give. Having said this, it does seem to obsessed many finer minds than mine for many centuries, and in some disciplines maybe some kind of heavy internal structure can be desirable, even if not recognisable in the end result (music and architecture for example). Not in photography though.
cheers, David
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  #3  
Old 04-26-2005, 10:28 PM
khmelins khmelins is offline
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Default Re: 1.61803398874989484820458683436563811772030917980

Thanks, David, for the link. Useful one.

You see my problem/question was exactly concerned with this rounding up. I've studied composition (music I mean) and analyzed several works by Debussy or Bartok. And there you see the Golden ratio, actually not the golden ratio but the Fibonacci series from which it can be derived, exactly. A certain part of the music start exactly at bar 89 and the climax comes at bar 144 and the whole thing ends at bar 233. I believe the same happens with painting, a canvas is exactly divided..

Certainly with photography no one has a ruler to divide the viewfinder exactly (although many cams have there viewfinder already with those marks..). And what is striking to me is that many people, a bit obcessed with the Rule, persue the exact division of the frame in thirds when the thirds are only a very rough approximation :).

Many critiques here on TE like that: "I'd prefer to see this-and-that more closer to the third.."

anton
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  #4  
Old 04-26-2005, 10:39 PM
sohrab sohrab is offline
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Default Re: 1.61803398874989484820458683436563811772030917980

haha you're right..

i already posted my lament here
i was being very polite over there..
personally i think such rules are TRASH!!!!
can't help it.. i hate the notion of rules in photography to the core :)
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  #5  
Old 04-26-2005, 10:48 PM
khmelins khmelins is offline
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Default Re: 1.61803398874989484820458683436563811772030917980

well, ok..

I started this one actually to try to understand where that "rule" comes from. made some searches and was confused by no Exact relation to the golden ratio..

you say "rules" are trash. ok.. but at the end there's a reason why they are so used and actually work nicely in many cases. have you read <a href=http://www.trekearth.com/read.php?f=9&t=80573&m=122929>this one</a>?
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  #6  
Old 04-27-2005, 01:23 AM
sohrab sohrab is offline
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Default Re: 1.61803398874989484820458683436563811772030917980

nice article
but i left out the last bit as i was running out of patience.

1..
i wouldn't call them rules, but inferences of certain randomly repeated experiments.

2..
let's call them rules.
however these are the rules that are are in context to the subconscious actually.
when you are taking a photograph are you actually aware what your neurons are upto? or rather what others neurons are upto?

1......

there is a mention of the chola sculptures and the western sculptures and how people from the west found the indian sculptures quite weird and all

so are we supposed assume that there are separate "rules" for india/cholas and the west??????

4....
ok hypothetically speaking there are different rules...

then is indian art allowed to crossover into western art??
or going back to the article.. are westerners ALLOWED to fuse the chola art styles with their own?? i.e. will the west get to see voluptuous sculptures of their own???

(i'm using the word "ALLOWED" since we are talking RULES here)

if yes... that means the rule is being broken... and if this is a general case then the rule automatically become non-existant.

so speaking of today... don't you think art in whatever form is getting more and more global.. take a look at most of the top photographers for instance.. do you see them following separate rules or any rule at all???

5......

go back to the bresson's early years. the so called "rule" of portraiture at that particular time. sit in front of the camera, stay still look into the camera and pose..
what did bresson do instead???
he's said to have been an anarchist!!

6......

"In other words human artists through trial and error, through intuition, through genius have discovered the figural primitives of our perceptual grammar. They are tapping into these and creating for your brain the equivalent of the long stick with the three stripes for the chick's brain. And what you end up with is a Henry Moore or a Picasso."
------- from the article in the link

since i haven't really indulged in picasso etc.. i'll stick to photography here..
and will use bresson here instead of picasso

using my point no. 5........

since bresson's early years, photography all over has evolved immensely.
perceptions have changed.. a lot of people are accepting new ideas..
a lot of people are making way for photographers like antoine d'agate who is obviously a hardcore believer in some rule that i'm not aware of as of now...
now looking at the evolution of photograph and the changes in perception, are we saying that rules are changing simultaneously???

if not...

then i'm afraid that the rules are outdated and a lot of the extremely good photographers are not adhering to them.. are they anomalies???? there are too many of them out there to be anomalies.. which brings us back to the rules.. do they really exist?

if yes....

well if rules keep on changing then i'm curious to know.. if it is the changes in rules that are leading to the evolution of photography??? or is it the evolution of photography which is leading to the changes in the rules..

in simple words..
do you normally say.. "oh man!!!! look at this photograph.. NOW THIS IS THE WAY A PHOTOGRAPH SHOULD BE TAKEN"

or

do you say, "WOW!! the rule ( for example the rule of thirds) is being conformed to, LOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH"

personally speaking.. i felt a little dumb even writing the second one..( just a personal opinion and no offence meant to the people who feel that way)

7......

ok i have so much bitching to do about the article above.. but keep losing the thoughts i get..

but my main problem/s with the article in the link is that the writer seems to have made it seem like what it says is the absolute truth..

to me, it's mere speculation, because

a) the human psyche is far more complex that that of a chick or a rat. atleast in most cases :) if it was so easy to reach a conclusion regarding the subconscious the world would be very different.
you should realise that behaviorial scientists are still working on things like "common property resources" and stuff.. and with the introduction of evolutionary game theory there is some randomness also coming in. also common property deals with group behaviour and includes customs, tradition etc. scientists are still trying to get more effective solutions to the problems of common property resources
rules are effective here because the consumption of resource by one person reduces the consumption by others..
however it's difficult to apply the same to perceptions

art is something more complex than common property


b) you have to also take into account "differences in tastes"

c) the evolution bit has been ignored.. atleast till the part i read

(ok i switched to replying to jose's note, so now i've forgotten what all i was about to write)

ummmmmm
sorry.. can't retrace my thought..
the only thing that remember is that this would be an interesting read while taking a dump :) but i would not give it a serious thought beyond that

now the rules that i was talking about were rules like "rules of the third" and so on.. namely a photograph SHOULD BE like this or that...something that even you seem to have at least a little bit of a problem with.

when i say rules of thirds is trash , it doesn't mean that i don't ever place my subject in 1/3rd of the frame and all that.. but i don't do it because i'm conscious of a particular rule...

having guidelines is something , but having a set of rules which demarcate your perception and viewpoint is certainly stagnating in my opinion..
and the problem is that people tend to get a little too caught up in rules. hence rules are just trash..
afterall how many top photographers do you come across adhering to certain rules..???
:)

p.s. hey i wrote this in a hurry and in the middle left it to reply to other messages.. so this whole note of mine might get quite confusing. if thats the case then just ignore it..
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  #7  
Old 04-27-2005, 03:05 AM
khmelins khmelins is offline
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Default Re: 1.61803398874989484820458683436563811772030917980

on the other day someone said you should go to politics :) man, you are unstoppable! great talking to you. i'll be reading your post and aswering at the same time..

1.. i wouldn't call them rules, but inferences of certain randomly repeated experiments.
I call the "rules" :)

2.. let's call them rules.
however these are the rules that are are in context to the subconscious actually.

Hum, from what I understood it is not subconscious but something much more measurable: physical structure of you brain and connections between particular group of neurons (take a look at the other article called Purple Numbers and Sharp Cheese

when you are taking a photograph are you actually aware what your neurons are upto? or rather what others neurons are upto?
No and that's the point. You may like something and not understand why. For example you may compose all your picture following the "rule" of thirds without ever had heard about it. (i actually know some people who enjoy photography, don't know any "rules" but somehow their compositions are in many cases by the "rules") Is it a result of an extensive analysis of photographs made by others, with that knowledge? I don't know. Do you?

there is a mention of the chola sculptures and the western sculptures and how people from the west found the indian sculptures quite weird and all
so are we supposed assume that there are separate "rules" for india/cholas and the west??????

Ok, let me split this one it two parts.
First your development and the way you think is influenced by your environment, meaning family/society/.. do you agree? In this context, my answer to your question, and based on the theory described in the article, is Yes. I'd imagine something like "fundamental rules" that will guide us all (a question for you in this context: are there global moral values? what is the role of religion there?) and some "local rules" depending on the context of your development. All my speculation.
Now the second part. As you have read that episode happened with Victorians. "The term Victorian, which literally describes things and events in the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901)". I think this underlines my speculation of "local rules". I do believe that within today's socio-cultural context the same people would enjoyed those sculptures..

4.. ok hypothetically speaking there are different rules...
then is indian art allowed to crossover into western art??
or going back to the article.. are westerners ALLOWED to fuse the chola art styles with their own?? i.e. will the west get to see voluptuous sculptures of their own???
(i'm using the word "ALLOWED" since we are talking RULES here)
if yes... that means the rule is being broken... and if this is a general case then the rule automatically become non-existant.
so speaking of today... don't you think art in whatever form is getting more and more global.. take a look at most of the top photographers for instance.. do you see them following separate rules or any rule at all???

A guess a great part of this can be dealed using the above speculations.
Any "rule" at all?? I don't know. Take a look at a great picture, feel it, enjoy it, and then analyze the composition. What is your conclusion? Wow, amazingly well composed. What is that? I'm not trying to make any statement here, i'm sharing my questions..

5.. go back to the bresson's early years. the so called "rule" of portraiture at that particular time. sit in front of the camera, stay still look into the camera and pose..
what did bresson do instead??? he's said to have been an anarchist!!

I'm not sure this is the same subject we are analyzing here.. Is this about what photography was used before HCB and after HCB?

6... too long to put in here, sorry :) and 7.. were I got a bit lost
1-you want all the answers from a begining of what a theory might be
2-i think at the end the article is saying that there might me some general principles which we don't understand with the available information and by experimenting you get closer and closer to the understanding
3-your reaction makes me think of another question: do you think that a human being is just a bunch of molecules in a particular organization from which amazing properties like conscious arise? or in your opinion there must be something else?
4-as for the WOW question. I guess after you know about the existence of a supposed "rule" here is how it work: WOW, look at this photograph.. NOW THIS IS THE WAY A PHOTOGRAPH SHOULD BE TAKEN". Man, I love this one. Oh, curious, it actually obeys that other "rule" i read about on the other day, OR, Aha, that "rule" was broken here. But the "rule" word is in your head.

now the rules that i was talking about were rules like "rules of the third" and so on.. namely a photograph SHOULD BE like this or that...something that even you seem to have at least a little bit of a problem with.
what made you draw that conclusion? no, no problems with "rules" for me, i think.. :) curiosity :)

when i say rules of thirds is trash , it doesn't mean that i don't ever place my subject in 1/3rd of the frame and all that.. but i don't do it because i'm conscious of a particular rule... you are not conscious of any rule, that doesn't rule out any speculative imbuilt "rule" and that's what, for me, the article is about :)


Just want to reiterate it is great "talking" to you,
anton
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  #8  
Old 04-28-2005, 10:30 PM
bboss bboss is offline
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Default Re: 1.61803398874989484820458683436563811772030917980

So even in the music composition you mention it is not an exact statement, (and how could it be, to 30 decimal places), and this is only if the music is performed metronomically (at exact tempo throughout) which is unlikely and undesirable.In other words it is still being rounded up. Maybe if you work it out more acurately (demi semiquavers, climax to the nearest nanosecond) it will work out.
Seriously though, internal structure is much more interesting in music than photography, there is much more to talk about, because music is constructed over a much longer time scale, and is expressive on a much deeper level. Complex forms, even if not obvious to the listener, is possible and desirable in a way that is unimaginable in photography.
Many composers, for example Messiaen, were quite obsessed with the special powers of prime numbers. How could we utilize this as photographers?
David
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  #9  
Old 04-28-2005, 10:58 PM
khmelins khmelins is offline
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Default Re: 1.61803398874989484820458683436563811772030917980

well, it is exact as far as the fibonacci series is concerned but ok.. whatever.. not the point of our discussion.

i feel you are right in your accession, the "problem" with photography is the instant of creation, the decisive moment :) no time for the ruler if you want to use one :)

thanks david,
anton
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  #10  
Old 04-30-2005, 04:29 AM
bboss bboss is offline
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Default Re: 1.61803398874989484820458683436563811772030917980

Ok so I wouldn't exactly call it a 'problem', its just the nature of photography. It does however make photography very difficult to talk about in any meaningful way.

In music for example the structure and form is apparent to anyone with a score (and a few lifetimes to study it) so this is what musicians/composers talk about and study, purely because its easy to talk about. But in reality these forms are not apparent to the listener (except the extremely simple ones), and the really important aspects (like emotional content, quality, originality etc) are totally neglected because they are so elusive and difficult to pin down. Is there really a single listener in the entire world who could tell through listening to a piece whether the composer was using the golden section as a compositional tool - I think not. This does not necessarily make the structure redundant, after all it may just keep the composer amused, or maybe it could give a kind of coherence that is recognized by the listener in an intuitive way.

So, we talk about those aspects which are easy to talk about, and in photography its obviously the technical aspects that get discussed most and emotional content least, despite the fact that it is certainly the emotional content (or at least our emotional response) that makes us like one photo or another.

And of course we all have little bits of value judgement here and there which whilst not exactly being rules (in that they are breakable) are certainly tendencies.
Sohrab for instance prefers B+W to colour, Claude doesnt like square photos, Luko prefers photos with humans in, I prefer landscapes and mountains etc (no offence guys, I only say this to illustrate a point), so we all have our own little tendencies many of which we share, otherwise we could not begin to understand where others were coming from.

Take the triangular photo for example. Nobody has said its a photographic rule that photos have to be a certain shape or format, but we all tend to use 2:3 or 3:4 formats (approx) with the odd squarer one creeping in. Ever seen a triangular one? I expect there is one somewhere, but the point is that we all intuitively gravitate towards a certain thing without even recognising it, and without even imagining to do otherwise. We gravitate towards that which exhibits the values and emotions we share, and that which we have already experienced.
We dont even have to see a triangular photo to know that it will not work well, but to explain why it wont do the job is virtually impossible. And when you start to think about it there are dozens of these assumptions/tendencies that really do demand some kind of impossible explanation. If only they were not so difficult to talk about...
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