Digital Photography Jargon


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Digital photography jargon g and h are for....

  • Golden ratio
  • Hyperfocal distance

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Digital photography jargon g and h

G is for....

Golden ratio

The golden ratio, golden section and golden mean all describe an aid to composition based on the ratio of 1: 1.61

Why this ratio? The unique properties of this ratio mean that it is frequently found naturally all around us – so much so that it was also known as the Divine ratio, with the belief that it was deployed by the Creator when designing the natural world.

Some common examples in nature where the ratio is evident, are

  • The distribution of seeds in a sunflower – where deployment of the ratio causes the seeds to grow in an array that optimises the use of available space which results in their aesthetically pleasing spiral pattern.
  • The arrangement of leaves sprouting from the stem of a plant – here the ratio ensures that each leaf will receive the most possible sunlight without being overshadowed by a leaf higher upon the stem.
  • The nautilus sea creature which grows its shell in an almost perfect spiral based around the golden ratio.
golden ratio photograph

In photography the golden section is a grid that divides the frame into 9 sections – by dissecting the width and height of the frame according to the golden ratio – the idea is then to compose the shot such that the focal point falls upon one of the points of intersection. (see also rule of thirds for a similar concept) A golden spiral can also be created from the grid – and elements in the composition that lead the eye to the focal point may be placed along or near this spiral.

As stated elsewhere in this site I should emphasise that there are NO RULES for composition – only guidelines. So my advice would be to give the golden section a try in your own photos and see if you find the result pleasing.

see also composition

golden section photograph

digital photography jargon g and h

H is for....

hyperfocal distance

Is the focus distance which will give the maximum depth of field.

Everything from half this distance to infinity will theoretically fall withing the depth of field

This is especially useful in landscape photography where a deep depth of field is normally used with the need to include sharply focused foreground interest in the composition.

The hyperfocal distance for a given focal length is dependant upon aperture size and image sensor size.

It is good practice to keep a simple list of the hyperfocal distances for your own lenses at different apertures in your camera bag for handy reference.

Hyperfocal distances can be readily found online at sites such as

see also Depth of field


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Depth of field

Tips for digital photography - composition

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