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Photo Orientation Options


Photo Orientation Options

The orientation of a photo ? whether it is a "wide" or "tall" picture ? affects the way you look at the image. Digital cameras, like most of their conventional, film-camera brethren, are built using a horizontal layout, because that configuration is best suited for holding in two hands held side by side. Unfortunately, many photographers unconsciously slip into the trap of viewing every potential photo in a horizontal mode. They only turn the camera 90 degrees when confronted by subject matter that simply can't be photographed any other way, such as the Eiffel Tower, a rocket headed skyward, or any NBA player taller than a guard.

Here are some tips that will help you decide when it's appropriate to use a vertical composition, and when you should think horizontal instead:
  • If you're taking pictures for a slide show or, more likely, for a computer presentation, stick with horizontally composed pictures. Slide show images are seen sequentially and should all have the same basic frame that is sized to fill up the horizontal screen as much as possible. Inserting a vertical picture may mean that the top and bottom of your photograph is cut off or appears odd on-screen. You can still have a vertically composed picture in your slide show; just mask off the right and left sides in your image editor to produce a vertical image within the fixed-size horizontal frame. The key is to make your "vertical" image no taller than the short dimension (height) of a horizontal picture in the same show.
  • If your subject has dominant horizontal lines, use a horizontally composed image. Landscapes and seascapes with a prominent horizon, photos of sprawling buildings or bridges, many sports photos focusing on more than one team member, and the majority of four-legged animal pictures look their best in horizontal mode.
  • If your subject has strong vertical lines, use a vertical composition. The Eiffel Tower, trees, tall buildings, pictures of individuals (whether full-length or portrait photos), and similar compositions all call for a vertical orientation.
  • Use a square composition if vertical and horizontal objects in your picture are equally important and you don't want to emphasize one over the other. A building that is wide, but that has a tall tower at one end, might look good in a square composition. The important vertical element at one end would keep the image from being too static. Circular images lend themselves to square compositions, as the round form fits comfortably inside a square "frame."

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