Sequence viewing > Aesthetics Index - Resource - © Lloyd Godman

A means to divide the space of the frame

It is useful to remember that there are many theories that deal with design and aesthetics. While each has its own system of dividing the area of the frame and giving importance to certain areas in relationship to others - none offer an absolute system of image design that guarantees a perfect image. When we take photographs or make images we tend to apply them instinctively. A problem which often arises when framing a subject with a camera is that the subject that we would like to photograph may not fit the desired design proportions. While we can use camera view point or theb focal length of the lens we are using to adjust this, sometimes it is impossible to achieve exactly what you are after. Unlike other graphic arts where this can be adapted, the photographer has to work with the existing subject.. However, knowing something about ways to divide the frame and how they work allows us to apply them in this intuitive manner.


The Golden Mean

Some design theories, like the golden mean or golden section date back to the ancient Greeks.

Their architecture and other arts were based on base on certain proportions.

1 : 1,618 or The Golden Mean

The 1,618... is an irrational number; its exact description is 1 + (√5 - 1) / 2

An equation in which the 1, 2 and √5 appears. This equation can easily be understood from one of the graphic ways to determine the ratio. This equation is also often indicated by the Greek letter φ (phi).
With the Golden Mean, the number 16 is introduced. 1 : φ is approximately 10 : 16, and 16 attracts gold (the force, not the metal), which makes sense, this ratio is called the Golden Mean!

A graphic construction of the golden mean starts again with the square, as shown in the top graphic of the picture:


Although the perfect world of their imagination never matched real world, Greek philosophers argued that the ideals of Truth Justice and Beauty, were the basis of a society. As a means of understanding the nature of things, an emphasis was placed on logic, mathematics and reason, and these ideas were applied in the arts. Artist's developed a Greek idea that to some degree has remained with us today - that beauty could be achieved through BALANCE, HARMONY, UNITY, and PROPORTION.


The golden mean generates spirals, as can be seen in the diagram at the bottom:

An interesting reference is that the Egyptian hieroglyph of Aries is a spiral and the god that goes with it is CHNOUM, the ram-headed god and the Greek counterpart is Ares and PALLAS ATHENE. hieroglyph



Examples in Architecture

Parthenon, Athens
This Greek temple was dedicated to Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, practical skills, and prudent warfare. She was born, fully armed from the head of Zeus (Jupiter). She is depicted with the snake on her shield (Medusa) and was a virgin.
In one of the legends, Athena lent her shield to Perseus, who used it as a mirror to defeat Medusa. The story tells that the one who faced Medusa, would turn into stone. Via the mirror, Medusa could be approached and killed (silver defeating magnetic's).

The Parthenon


The Parthenon and the golden mean
As the drawings and inscribed ratio's indicate, the Parthenon is built according to the Golden mean ratio’s. Only the inner chamber at the back is of an 1 : √2 ratio.




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