Portrait versus Landscape, Aspect Ratios, and Strange Crops
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I read an interesting article the other day on the choice between portrait and landscape mode asking which was better. I also saw a question about why the aspect ratios of camera sensors do not match standard picture frames (like 8.5×11). I too have my own questions about why people tilt their cameras so that the horizon goes from lower corner to upper corner rather than from edge-to-edge.
It would be easy to it say that it’s up to the photographer as to how they want to frame or crop their photographs to fit a frame. But that would be the easy answer.
What matters is the viewer. The choice between portrait and landscape is both artistic and psychological. For example, most of us read from one side to another and it may be less natural for us to look up and down. On the other hand portrait mode makes our audience work, and sometimes that is a good idea.
Publishers of magazines prefer portrait formats because they fit the vertical page frame. Landscapes are great for two-page spreads. Some photographers tell you to shoot both ways, others to always shoot landscape to get the prize of a two-page spread!
The question about aspect ratios is purely one of choice, look at how paintings and prints are matted within frames. Artists have been using this as a tool to fit frames and draw their audience’s eye into their pictures for generations. It’s not the size of the picture it’s how you want to present it. If you want edge to edge prints the photograph may need to be cropped, but is edge to edge what you want or is it a bit of negative space to highlight your work on web sites, in books, magazines or on your walls.
I have no explanation why people tilt their cameras, maybe they like to watch me twist my head?