What is Camera Aurea?

Camera Aurea (Latin for Golden Camera) is an app that can assist you with the photographic composition of the pictures you take with your iPhone. It will help you, in a simple way, to take more attractive photographs, with a balanced, harmonious and captivating layout. In order to accomplish this, it makes extensive use of the Golden Ratio.


What is the Golden Ratio?

The Golden Ratio has been a mysterious concept, considered the secret behind many works of art, for thousands of years. For reasons that have never been quite understood, it seems to strongly appeal to our senses, and has been appreciated so much that 'beauty standards' have been based on it.The Golden Ratio has existed longer than mankind, and you will find it in nature, architecture, even in modern design. It was used by Leonardo da Vinci to create his masterpiece The Last Supper and by Michelangelo when he painted the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. 

An Example

Have a look at the picture below. It is a typical picture that anyone with an iPhone could have made, shot in the way many people would do it.

A ship at sea. Technically, the photograph is fine. It's in focus, the exposure is OK and the colors are good. The horizon is not exactly level, which is not a problem. This can be easily corrected, even directly on your iPhone. However, there is an issue with the picture... it's boring! Anyone could have taken it. The composition is not inspiring. If you would print this picture on a large frame, and hang it on the wall of your living room, it would not be considered an improvement to your home by anyone. 

Now have a look at the picture below. It’s the same ship, at the same moment, but this time the picture was taken with the Camera Aurea, using a dual Golden Ratio mask.

Most people immediately ‘feel’ that the second picture is much more pleasant to look at. Not only because the horizon is level, but mostly because the composition is much more captivating. The picture almost has the vibrance of an oil painting, carefully created for a well thought out composition. 

First of all, the width-to-height ratio of the picture is equal to the Golden Ratio, roughly halfway the more traditional 3:2 and 16:9 proportions. In addition, the ship is no longer at the center, but located somewhat to the right. This way, there is more space in front of the ship, which is where the ship is going. This simple trick brings 'movement' to the photograph. The horizon is no longer at the vertical center of the photograph either, which creates a much more attractive division between the sea and the sky.

So how was this picture made?

The problem with these off center compositions is that there are millions of ways to do them. So how much off center do you need? Which would look best? Interestingly, there seems to be an optimum position, which is ruled by the mysterious Golden Ratio. And this is where Camera Aurea will take away the guess work for you. 

As a matter of fact, taking the second picture was extremely easy. This is what my iPhone looked like when I took it:

All I had to do was align the horizon with one grid line, and center the ship on the other. Click, done! A beautiful dual Golden Ratio composition.

How to use this app

This app provides you with a collection of 9 different guiding templates for various kinds of photography. Select the mask of your choice by swiping over the icons on top of the screen. Most templates can be flipped horizontally and vertically to match your specific occasion. All you need to do is stick to the following 3 principles:

  • Find boundaries between large areas with different brightness or color (for example: the horizon), or prominent straight lines (for example: a railing, a window frame or a pole). Align these exactly with one of the dotted guiding lines.
  • When boundaries are curved, make sure that they match the guiding lines at the edges of the viewfinder.
  • Align objects of interest in the center of the guiding lines.

Are you interested to start learning aurography too? You can download your copy of Camera Aurea from the AppStore right now!

© 2019-2020 Eltjo Haselhoff