The Golden Ratio? Psh. That's so 2016. If you want to really take your photography to the next level, it's time you step up to the Platinum Ratio.
What is the Platinum Ratio?
Good question. The Platinum Ratio is like the Golden Ratio on steroids. It's the secret ratio we use for everything here at Fstoppers, from composing shots to figuring out the ideal champagne-to-orange juice ratio in our mimosas. Here's how it works.
Platinum is one of the rarest elements, far more valuable than gold. Its atomic number is 78. Seventy-eight RPM is exactly how fast many popular records were to be played, and what shape are records? That's right. They're circles. The circle of life. Seventy-eight is the number of life, and platinum is the material of life. But what's the actual ratio?
Well, I'm glad you asked. A good life balances the head and the heart, so we need to find a numerical balance between the two. Well, per Wolfram Alpha, the average human heart is approximately 4.7 inches in length, 2.4 inches in depth, and 3.1-3.5 inches in width. My friends always say I have a big heart, so we'll use the upper measurement on width, which gives an average heart size of 39.5 cubic inches. Also per Wolfram Alpha, the average size of the human brain is 79 cubic inches (suspiciously close to the atomic number of platinum). What's the ratio of the human heart to the human brain, then? Well, 79 divided by 39.5 is two, exactly! The brain:heart ratio is 2:1! The Platinum Ratio is 2:1!
This means that every image should be three parts total in each dimension: two parts heart and one part brain. To put this into action, I created a special grid in Photoshop.
As you can see, since the brain is two parts and the heart is one, or three total parts, I've separated each dimension into three equal parts and singled out the intersections as the important points of composition, as this is where the brain meets the heart. I call them the "platinum points." They are where we will find the platinum balance, the balance of brain and heart, the balance of life. Let's put it to work! Here's a recent image of Cleveland:
You'll notice that I placed the lighthouse (the foreground object of interest) almost at the platinum point. It's slightly off, but we'll count it. Hell, the brain:heart ratio is slightly off in most areas of my life (read "my dating life"), but I just roll with it. And besides, just because we're talking about precise mathematical quantities doesn't mean we have to be precise in our application of them. It's art. Life is messy. Write that down. You're welcome. Furthermore, note that the top of the skyline is along one of the brain:heart lines. That's because Cleveland is a city of heart, but we also have a lot of universities here, so it's a city of brains, too.
Here's a recent headshot in which I applied the brain:heart ratio.
You'll immediately notice I placed her eye right at one of the platinum points. Furthermore, her head and brain reside in the upper two horizontally oriented compartments (I really wish I could come up with a simpler term for those), while her heart is in the lower horizontally oriented compartment (really, there has to be a better way to say that... please tell me if you think of something), just like the ratio says they should be. Compositionally, it's a perfect photo. I just wish her gold chain was platinum. Alas.
Note: I'm currently in the process of trademarking the Brain:Heart Platinum Grid and related techniques. If you use them in any of your photos, please remit a royalty of $20 plus 45% of all profits to Alex Cooke, c/o Fstoppers.
Advanced Platinum™ Techniques
Once you've mastered the Brain:Heart Platinum Grid™, you're ready for more advanced techniques, including Platinum Angles™ and Platinum Circles™. Check out this image from a recent wedding:
Let's examine all the compositional decisions I made when taking this photo.
Platinum Points™: Notice that the couple is at one of the Platinum Points™. Marriage represents the union of two minds and hearts, and similarly, the couple stands at the compositional union of the brain and heart.
Red: Remember that platinum is the circle of life. Similarly, the couple is walking on a Platinum Circle™ together; they now share the same circle of life with one another.
Yellow: Platinum is canonically associated with the number 78. Notice all the 78-degree Platinum Angles™ between the shrubbery, a bench, and even the lens flare and the couple.
Orange: The supplementary angle to 78 degrees is 102 degrees. As such, just as the path in the background supplements the path in the foreground, the 102-degree angle at which it cuts across the frame supplements the plethora of 78-degree angles in the foreground.
Dark Blue: Illuminati confirmed!!!!
Light Blue: It looked like a spiral fit there.
Green: The angle of the lens flare from the sun mirrors the radial angle of the couple to the center of the circle. The couple is on the circle of life, and they are awash in sunlight, the giver of life. You'll also note that it again forms a Platinum Angle™.
There are other Platinum™ devices at play in this image, but I started running out of colors and room in the image to show them. The ones I've listed above are a good start. Try putting them to work in one of your own images.
The Brain:Heart Platinum Photographic Compositional System™ is a versatile and complete method of creating compelling, worthwhile imagery. Through mildly strict adherence to the Platinum Grid™ and Platinum Points™, you can create images that blast the rule of thirds to smithereens, and through the use of Platinum Angles ™ and Platinum Circles™, you can leave the Golden Ratio in the dust. So, when you're composing photos, just remember: why go golden when you can go Platinum™?