Phi, Spongebob?! Phi !?!

Probably the easiest way to dramatically improve your snapshots is to learn about the rule of thirds. You know, divide what you see in the viewfinder by two lines into thirds horizontally and vertically and try to get more interesting parts to roughly be either where the lines cross or on the lines themselves. If your picture did not come out like that, you can usually fix it later with a crop.

Rule of thirds is actually a rough approximation of the golden ratio which is very well explained at Wolfram’s website. The pictures will look even better if you will use lines that are conforming to the golden section.

Just a crack of a difference: fat lines are thirds, thin lines – golden mean (I did not use the plugin when I cropped the photo).

I was playing around today with a plugin that renders golden rectangles, spirals and triangles. I checked some of my old photos – many seem to follow golden mean rather than the rule of thirds.

I was also thinking about writing my own Photoshop plugin like that (that one does not look like it’s worth 32 bucks to me), but Adobe has draconian new rules about who gets the SDK. So instead I decided to write this post.

I ordered a book about golden mean and related stuff from Amazon. Helpful Amazonian electrobrain is suggesting the movie Pi. The dang thing is pretty smart.

Meanwhile I got kind of curious as to how appealing the golden rectangle actually is. Let’s see.

Things that are strangely appealing. Spongebob Squarepants. Yep, the golden section cuts straight across his weird little belt. It’s also interesting to note that he is almost always drawn kind of sideways – in front projection the proportion would be off.

The Greek cup (about which I wrote at length before and mentioned in probably the only poem which I ever wrote. Yep, it roughly conforms to the proportion and “to serve you” is right at the division.

Now, let’s see. Ugly things. That picture of one of the ugliest buildings in Brooklyn. It’s waaaaay off. And so is the SUV in front of it. The older house on the left is good though.

Cars are tricky though. The most beautiful car that I know is Tucker Torpedo. It does not fit a golden rectangle either. But it roughly fits two. I tried to fit two rectangles onto the SUV in the picture and to the Scion xB, which is jarringly boxy. No go. Let’s see, but Chrysler PT Cruiser, a car which I actually like, fits two rectangles also.

This is all terribly crude and unscientific, but might hopefully be useful to you.

Yaw Mamma

Turns out there is a whole bunch of words describing movement.
I always wondered why in aviation lingo rotation in X, Y and Z axes (yah, that’s right, I looked up the plural of axis in a dictionary) is called roll, pitch and yaw. Roll and pitch I can understand. But what is the deal with yaw? Is it related to “yawn”?

This Usenet post provided the following tidbits:
Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Day”:
In the heyday of large sailing ships, numerous nautical words appeared on the horizon, many of which have origins that have never been traced. “Yaw” is one such word. It began showing up in print in the 16th century, first as a noun (meaning “movement off course” or “side to side movement”) and then as a verb. For more than 350 years it remained a sailing word, with occasional side trips to the figurative sense “to alternate.” Then dawned the era of airplane flight in the early 20th century, and “yawing” was no longer confined to the sea. Nowadays, people who love boats still use “yaw” much as did the sailing-men of old, but pilots and rocket scientists also refer to the “yawing” of their crafts.

Some dictionaries say that it may be from the Old Norse, jaga, meaning to bend.

American Heritage says “Perhaps of Scandinavian origin”.

Websters Revised Unabridged gives the German gagen (to rock), the Norwegian gaga (to bend backward), the Icelandic gagr and gaga (bent back, throw the neck back).

Gaga? Gugu? Give me a break. A fricking mystery.

What’s more, is that searching for this information I learned that movement along X, Y and Z in ships is called surge, slip (or sway) , and heave.

Also, in the book about surgical knots that I am reading (I have a huge interest in knots), they describe a whole damn system of names for directions and movements.
For instance, proximal means toward, distal means away. Palmar means the palm side of the hand and dorsal means the back of the hand. Then there is flexion, extension, pronation and supination which mean bending, straightening, rotating left and rotating right. Whew.

Interestingly enough, I don’t find surgical knots to be any harder then fishing knots. Actually the knot I use the most in fishing is of a surgical origin (it’s even called the surgeon’s knot). And it’s the easiest strong knot that I know.