Landscape Versus Portrait Photography


Photographs: Author
Category: Photography
Date of Publication: Mar 25 , 2013Vol-01 Issue-02

Photography, much like painting is an art. A photographer struggles a whole day to capture his "that perfect image" but many times that image just seem little more than satisfactory. A perfect photo involves much more than just a click of a button! One small but crucial decision with which a photographer often struggles is whether to take the snap in portrait or landscape format.


Although, much depends on the scene and motif, landscape format is the initial choice for most photographers. Mostly it is an unconscious choice as a horizontal image appears to be much more natural and is set according to the eyes" viewing ability. This format allows the viewer to explore and comprehend the motif and photograph much more easily. In reality, the human eye is in-sync with landscape format. Everything we are surrounded with in our day to day life is horizontal or rectangular in shape, from TV to computers to movie screens, touch pads, to every object that shows some image, like the car windshield. Thus a horizontal image appears much natural to human eyes.

The right choice of the format should, however, add to the image and enhance it rather than detract from it. Portrait format is considered to be more artistic as it creates a deeper spatial perspective that enhances the overall effect of the picture. Especially, in landscape photography it often adds a dramatic effect and extra element.

landscape photography

To make my point clear, let us make a comparative study of the three images I have captured of the same landscape in three different angles. Initially, the above motif of a blue Cape Cod dinghy seemed to be a perfect image for landscape format. In my first attempt, I focussed the range of my lens on the dinghy consciously turning my lens to 200mm with a higher horizontal placement. A beautiful view and the best landscape photography! But it did not provide the picture an effect of wide marshy landscape that I was looking for.

Following my Photography Instincts, I naturally started to explore the image from other point of views. I adjusted the telephoto lens to a 28mm wide-angle lens with low horizontal placement. A small aperture with high f-stop setting rendered the required Depth of Field. It provided the image with more spatial depth with broader view but the motif was lost. There were lots of distracting elements added to the image which made me change the setting from landscape to portrait format.

Now my image had two motifs. The blue Cape Cod dinghy motif and the wide marsh landscape motif. Just with the twist in format I accomplished both the motifs and had my "that perfect image". While the low horizon placement further enhanced the feel of spatial depth and gave the effect of wide marsh landscape, the dinghy remained central to the image. The three images clearly demonstrate how a little switch of format and twist of elements can add to or eliminate unnecessary details in Landscape Photography. So next time you are out on fields, consider the portrait format to enhance the picture and get that feel of "that perfect image" and smile all your way back home!

photography, dream wanderlust

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