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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Is the Golden Rectangle the Most Pleasing Shape?

What do you think?

Posted by: OREN GRAD


Blogger Max said...

I think this is a very interesting topic that is closely related to each person's subconscious tastes. I remember reading on calligraphy that there is significant personality difference between those who draw tall characters in their handwriting, and those who write in more even proportioned, squarish or roundish characters. I think there's a psychological correlation, for example with how comfortable we feel with our frame proportions. Some people love the new 4:3 shape sensors, while nothing made me happier than knowing that there are native 16:9 format digital cameras like the Panasonic LX1.
I see two things when I think 16:9, a flat horizontal panoramic, or a vertical shot that makes me think of japanese ink drawings of mountains with little trees hanging over vertical cliffs. Both of those are extremely exciting to me, while I know a lot of people would feel these possibilities too extreme.
May be how thin is our preferred rectangle proportions define us (yeah, it sounds quite silly, I know).
As for the people who shoot squares... wow, that's for geniuses.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Nope, but it's OK for photographs and paintings. LOL

6:12 PM  
Blogger Ken Lee said...

There are several good books and sites which detail the ubiquity of the Golden Mean in the natural world, in animal and plant anatomy, as well as astronomy, genetics, etc. See

The golden ratio appears in the art - not only as single rectangles - but as sets of rectangles - within more complex designs. The 8x10 format, for example, is composed of 2 golden rectangles (5x8) side by side.

The ratio also appears as logorithmic spirals, such as denotes the shape of the ear and the inner ear. Because of the logorithmic - rather than geometric - shape of this spiral, there is a need for "correction" to the musical scale: hence the "well-tempered" scale, familiar to students of music theory.

Once you have a look at a good paper on why Phi is used by plants for Phylotaxis, and why it is the most irrational of the irrational numbers, it begins to dawn on you that any human preference for it is likely a simple reflection of our own anatomy.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Leonard Metcalf said...

I have to agree with you on that one. I prefer to shoot in a vertical format. So I naturally am drawn to squarer / squatter formats. For example my 2 & 1/4 square Bronica, the Bronica RF 6x4.5 or the 4 x 5 inches of my view camera. I am forever cropping my 35mm work. At least the sensor on my digital point and shoot isn't too long (similar to the 4 3rds system).

Composition in a square can be so beautiful. Composition in a panoramic format is currently done to death. Who ever said that the image should dictate the format hit the nail right on the head.


7:53 AM  

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