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The Golden Ratio...a myth?

Discussion in 'General Aquascaping and Planted Tank Discussions' started by ShadowMac, May 29, 2015.

  1. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    Not directly about plants, but about aquascape design in a roundabout way. Many preach about the value of the Golden ratio. I myself have tried to measure it out using tape on the front of my tank. I've found that my best scapes have come from "free handing" the hardscape and focusing on balance without symmetry not calculating focal points. Its interesting because it seems the golden ratio is retrospectively applied. In doing so, we can, after the fact, indicate this or that focal point satisfies the golden ratio..but was this the scapers intent and is it necessary for a pleasing aquascape?

    http://www.fastcodesign.com/3044877/the-golden-ratio-designs-biggest-myth?utm_source=ps facebook&utm_medium=paidcm&utm_campaign=ps002codesignss&utm_content=codesign&cid=ps002codesignss
     
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  2. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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    I do things by eye and I understand the golden rule etc but I think its not as important these days. There are some very very nice scapes these days that totally ignore the rule and are scaped from the centre of the tank and almost symmetrical.
     
    ShadowMac likes this.
  3. Solcielo lawrencia

    Solcielo lawrencia Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I'm a classical artist. I never learned the Golden Ratio (or the Rule of Thirds) until I started photography a few years ago. Recently, I looked back at my earlier drawings and paintings and one thing I noticed was that most of the main focal points were placed around the Golden Ratio. I did this not by following any rule or guidelines (because I was never taught them), I did this intuitively because it simply looked correct. Any other placements would have distorted the visual balance and made the works aesthetically flawed.

    Artists don't consciously use these composition guidelines; they do it mostly by feel. So where did this idea that artists, designers, architects, and photographers, etc. should use the Golden Ratio (or Rule of Thirds) in order to create good compositions? This probably came about due to Rationalism, the belief that rational thought was superior to intuitive feeling, which merged with the Scientific Revolution during the 19th century. It was an era where it was easy to use numbers to measure great works of art and find this common pattern. Then they retroactively applied this Ratio to say that these artists used this Ratio to create great works of art, and if you wanted to be a great artist, you should use this Ratio too. It makes sense, but it's totally wrong.

    Rational thinking VS intuitive feeling utilize different areas of the brain. You can't use both at the same time (just like you can't think and feel simultaneously for the same reasons.) Unfortunately, due to the schooling system which over-emphasizes rational thinking, students are not taught the value of intuition or how to use it. The more years they are in school, the more they lose this ability, especially when it comes to the arts. (This is corroborated by the fact that the older the student, the lower they score on creativity tests. Adults score the lowest. Were you college educated? Then you score even lower, even though your IQ scores are higher.) Compounding this problem is the fact that art classes (which also includes dance, music, drama/theatre, etc.) are usually the first to be cut during budget crises. Without this domain, intuition is not utilized, and it is slowly lost.

    One of the biggest difficulties is that it's very hard to teach adults to use their intuition after a lifetime of neglect. Their primary mode of thought is rational and getting them to use their intuition is like pulling teeth; it's possible, but it's painful. They think they're doing it "wrong", which is a rational thought. They need external feedback instead of relying on their intuition for it. Then they give up thinking that they'll never be good no matter how much they try - another rational thought.

    So how can we teach students to use their intuition again? Since intuition is deeply tied to emotion, perhaps having students feel, instead of think, is the answer. Remember that you can't think and feel at the same time, so focusing on how it evokes your emotions frees your mind from rationality. This is what's needed in the arts, instead of teaching rational principles which don't actually teach them to use their intuition.
     
  4. keithgh

    keithgh Moderator Staff Member

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    When I am designing something the golden rule is in the background, I only have Terrascapes now the third one I tried to use the rule but it did not work out.

    I went back to the basics of nature and the general plan is pleasing to the eye.

    Keith:):)
     
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  5. biobio

    biobio Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Golden ratio can work well in a case of framing something 3D with 2D frame. Only than. So again, we are raising question of final photo for aquascaping contests. Does it worth to kill your aquascaping creativity with some rational concept (as golden ratio is) just for one (and only one) frontal final layout photo? I think: it does not...

    General concept of aquasaping contests (they are photo contests) is making many restrictions in aquascaping process. Contestants are applying many tricks to make good contest photo. For example, in the first phase (layout creation) some of them are: golden ratio, avoiding overlapping layers of hardscape, false perspective (deepness, so favored by judges), etc...

    There are even more tricks used just before or at the final photo session: adding small or unstable elements of hardscape and some plants, last moment cleaning and removing algae (makeup), fish positioning and schooling, making waves at the surface, light effects, etc...


    In addition, the last: "Photoshoping"... Not allowed, but almost always practiced to some extent.


    Bottom line result is: one and only one frontal contest photo. False or reality? Captured moment in the tank lifetime or installation.


    It is same as is in the fashion industry and fashion photography... Top models are "top" at the photo and just might be a good-looking skinny girls if you meet them at the street.

    "The Golden Ratio" is just one aspect of "photo-aqua-scaping".
     
    moss_maniac, ShadowMac and keithgh like this.
  6. Solcielo lawrencia

    Solcielo lawrencia Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Here's an example of why using these composition rules are wrong. Take a look at IAPLC2013's winner, Truong Thinh Ngo's "Evergreen":
    IAPLC2013 winner.jpg

    1. The very first impression is that the composition is poor.
    2. With an R3 overlay, it's clear that the Rule of Thirds was used to compose it.
    3. When cropped for GR, the image shows much better compositional balance but it's still not balanced.
    4. But when cropped for proper composition, the focal point is in the center, and balance is observed.

    So what went wrong here? Why did following R3 result in poor composition? Why did cropping for GR result in a better impression? And why did simply placing the focal point in the center result in the best impression?

    My eye tells me that there is nothing interesting on the right side. The entire 1/3 of the right side is monotonous so getting rid of it would be better. Cropping for GR accomplishes this somewhat, but not entirely; there is still some monotony. Finally, simply getting rid of the monotony altogether resulted in the best composition.

    Do you agree or disagree with the proper composition? Instead of answering with a rational response, i.e. "I think it looks good/bad because...", respond by expression how it makes you feel. Use your intuitive senses to guide you.
     
  7. nicpapa

    nicpapa Aspiring Aquascaper

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    Its not a myth, just look your eyes where are the focal points... :)
    When you crop for prope composition the focal points its not in the center.

    I think that when you crop the image to the proper composition the focal points is more clear for the eye...
    Thats why it look beter.
     

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    Last edited: May 30, 2015
  8. Solcielo lawrencia

    Solcielo lawrencia Aspiring Aquascaper

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    What you've circled are not focal points - you've circled shadows. A focal point is a point of interest where your eye tends to center around. The eye can wander but it tends to rest back at this point.

    This is yet another problem with applying arbitrary composition rules because they appear to apply to almost anything if you try hard enough. This is a rational decision, not an intuitive feeling.
     
  9. nicpapa

    nicpapa Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I circle what i see first whith my eyes..
    Shadow can be a focal poitn why not? :)
    The image you post its a litle dificult becauase there is not a lot of diference in the tank.
    Try one with plants setup like dutch...
     
  10. Supercoley1

    Supercoley1 Moderator Staff Member

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    My eye focuses straight to where the largest part of 'sky' meets the low point of the 'land'. I guess (rationalising. lol) that its the most natural avenue for curiosity to me. Its the most obvious way to see what is past that point as it is where the 2 sides meet and obviously a path.

    My mind always tends to look centrally though and like you say dismisses the right hand side. Not because it is boring or unimaginative at all, just that I was drawn by that other part of the scape and ignore the right hand side. I find the more symmetrical image you say is 'Proper composition' much more pleasing to my eye and I do prefer scapes where that point is more central.
     
  11. Solcielo lawrencia

    Solcielo lawrencia Aspiring Aquascaper

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    I'm a photographer. It's not a good photograph of the layout, hence the issue with the strong shadows. This requires ignoring them to a certain degree to see what the composition is, not just what the photograph shows. So as a layout, the shadows aren't focal points, even though your eye is drawn to the contrast. This is a lighting issue, not a compositional one.

    I used the "Evergreen" layout an example of poor framing. It clearly used R3 which resulted in poor composition. But by simply cropping out the right side and framing it for balance, we have a much better image.

    Did last year's IAPLC winner use GR or R3?
    Screen shot 2014-11-09 at 8.59.47 PM.png
    No. He just placed the main idea directly balanced in the middle. You can try hard to find GR or R3 points, but that would require a lot of fishing. It wasn't composed using either of these "rules".

    (Also, that rule about no photo editing... it's clearly edited. The darkness of the shadows were reduced. Contrast and definition appear to have also been adjusted, as well as color. This should have been automatically subject to disqualification, but it wasn't.)
     
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