Landscape vs. Portrait: Which Orientation to Use?
When I first started taking photos with my phone, I often held the phone upright, in portrait orientation, without giving it a second thought. I think it’s because that’s how you normally hold the phone when you use it. Over time I began to run into a few limitations when trying to edit or use my photos. So, I began to use landscape orientation almost exclusively, as it provides a few advantages:
1. Landscape images work better on my website. Wide images take up less space vertically when viewed on this site and most others. This allows the reader to see the entire image without scrolling (which doesn’t sound like a big deal, until you see an image too tall for your screen).
2. Frequently, the interesting things are to the right and left, not up and down. Using a wider frame, as opposed to a taller one, often allows you to get more interesting objects in the photo. This is especially true of landscape (scenery) photography.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and this one is no different. While I use landscape orientation over 90% of the time, there are a few occasions in which portrait orientation might be more appropriate:
1. When taking photos or people or tall waterfalls, buildings, etc. Obviously, these objects are taller than they are wide, so portrait oriented photos can capture the entire subject. Click to see the full-height image (remember the part about wide images working better online?).
2. When the sky includes interesting cloud formations. I use this technique a lot with sunsets. Often sunsets are shot over a body of water, and there isn’t usually anything special to add to the frame by moving left or right. So instead of just capturing more water, I turn the phone 90 degrees, and get more clouds. Here are a couple examples:
This applies to other scenery mages beyond sunsets, as well.
3. When creating depth-of-field effect. Honestly, I don’t know the name of this type of image (I’m no expert, remember?), but portrait orientation photos are great for shooting the underside of bridges, or anywhere else that a series of vertical lines are just offset from one another.
How do you decide which orientation to use?