# Composition Theory – What is Dynamic Symmetry?

Photography is its most basic element stems from Algebra, Chemistry and Optical Physics. With digital photography we have kind of replaced Chemistry with Computer Science. Let’s face it, most of us are not fans of mathematics; and, many are shocked to learn how large a role math plays in photography. Algebraic elements are at the core root to photography. Reverting to film base we know that there are two types of film that exist – negative and positive. The same applies to photographic paper. As a result, we print negatives using negative paper (two negatives equal a positive). Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn mathematics are also related to composition.

What is Dynamic Symmetry? Dynamic Symmetry is an armature which is geometrically designed to promote continuity, flow, rhythm and balance within artistic design.

###### Basic terms to know when building your dynamic symmetry graph:

**Baroque Diagonal** – The diagonal line that extends from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. The Baroque Diagonal is the predominant diagonal as we read from left to right and our eye naturally travels along this diagonal.

**Sinister Diagonal** – The diagonal line that extends from the upper left corner to the lower right corner.

**Reciprocal Line** – A line that intersects a major diagonal (Sinister/Baroque) at a 90˚ angle

**Armature** – The grid or framework to build your composition.

You will use geometric ratios to build a Dynamic Symmetry graph. The graph consists of nine rectangles and numerous triangles. Review the two examples and notice how the image flows through the graph.

The **Golden ratio** is a special number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part. It is often symbolized using phi, after the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet. Phi is usually rounded off to 1.618

- 1:1 (Square) 10”x10” image 10÷10 = 1
- 7:5.5 Root Phi 14”x11” image 14÷11 = 1.272
- 4:3 (Micro Four-Thirds) 8”x6” image 8÷6 = 1.333
- 5:3 (Phi – Golden Rule) 5”x3” image 5÷6 = 1.618

###### There are basic rules that govern design

The rules that govern design are more commonly referred to as composition. While many believe design is intuitive, there are others who are more methodical in their design process and make a concerted effort to adhere to the rules of composition. Dynamic Symmetry is one of these provoking theories. Based on the rule of thirds, it utilizes a series of diagonals and rectangles that identify points of visual impact. Jay Hambidge, a student of Greek Art, was convinced Greek designs were based more on methodology than natural instincts. He believed that the ingredient to Greek design was their impeccable use of Dynamic Symmetry.

**Check out this video** and learn how for fun you can try using your cell phone and use a clear plastic protector and use a thin sharpie marker to draw dynamic symmetry on it and place it on your phone when taking photos. It will help strengthen your image creation.

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