It’s happened to me countless times and I imagine you’ve had the same thing happen: photographer’s block.
In spite of all the lovely spring flowers blooming in my yard and our little town, including my own columbine that would make any garden center drool, I’ve found myself in a photography funk. How many pictures do you really need of columbine, or tulips, or daffodils – well – you get the “picture”.
Then last week, while reading the weekly newsletter from Digital School Photography, I found this post. It was when I got to subtopic number four and the paragraph about “golden triangle” that bells began to ring. Now I’d heard of this composition tool before but I’d never employed it however this article explained it so well that I was motivated to try it.
If you’re like me, you see the whole world in “rule of thirds”, even when there’s no camera in your hands. So what is golden triangle? Here’s an illustration to show you the concept, the idea being to place your subject in one of the triangles. You’ll have to imagine a line dissecting your frame diagonally and then two smaller triangles formed by a line place at right angles.
Lately our weather has not been photography friendly, so I culled recent archives for photos I might use to illustrate this. Since all my photos were composed with that subconscious rule of thirds grid in my head, it was challenging, but I found a few, thanks to a lot of negative space. Here’s the first one I worked with, showing the placement of the flower in the bottom triangle. In some ways it’s not too different than rule of thirds but I did find that it was more dynamic than the original rule of thirds photo, also shown below.
While researching more about this topic, I found another great post that made the concept even clearer to me. Here are two more examples from my archives which I cropped using the golden triangle idea, literally using a ruler on my computer display to create the diagonal line so I could visualize the triangles as I cropped.
I did make an attempt in between rain showers to take some new pictures with the golden triangle as my guide and I will tell you, it really takes some concentration. The old rule of thirds kept creeping into my mind’s eye, especially since all the focus points on my camera are based on that concept. However, I did find that by using the far left or far right focus point, I had more success. If I had it to do over again, I would frame this dogwood further to the right hand edge of the photo.
The golden triangle isn’t going to work all the time and I dare say I’ll still use the rule of thirds most of the time. However, for the next week or so at least, I think I’ll use this composition concept with all my photos as a way to train my eye to see things a different way. Particularly since I think this would be a great tool for architectural photography. So next time I’m traveling, I’d like to have this in my bag of tricks. As shown in the DPS post, it can also be used for dramatic portraits.
So why not join me in this challenge? Let’s teach ourselves some new tricks, flex our creative muscles and add some variety to our photographs, as well as learning new ways to "see" our photos before we shoot.
PS – This is not to be confused with “golden spiral”. That’s a post for another day!