Saturday, 15 August 2009

Landscape or portrait

If I am taking photos of someone who is stood up then I usually work in portrait mode. That's computer language for holding the camera vertically. If I am taking a photo of two people then portrait is still the best orientation for the photo. If there are three or four people then whether you hold the camera vertically or horizontally depends on the background. More than four and it is probably best to take the photo in landscape I am generalising because there are always exceptions but the word 'portrait' for page orientation on computers came from the shape of a face and upper body (of the whole body when standing). On the other hand if you look at a landscape your eye often follows the horizon. Holding the camera horizontally is usually the best way to frame these pictures but you will still find exceptions to this rule.

One of my earliest blogs was about the rule of thirds. The most interesting part of a photo or a painting is often found at the intersections of imaginary lines crossing the photo that divide it into nine boxes. Now take a look at your television. There is no choice here as everything is landscape so how do they deal with people? You can become an expert just by watching TV. Sometimes it just doesn't look ideal. One person in the screen may have their legs cropped out of the photo but nothing of interest to either side of them. However television producers are quite sophisticated. Have you noticed a newsdesk with two presenters. You are getting two portrait images on your landscape television. One presenter does not look quite right so very often there is another image or some words on the screen along with the presenter.

You don't need to stretch our your index fingers and thumbs and place them together to make a rectangle. That is the sort of thing that a film director will do but you can train yourself to find the best orientation just by looking.

Happy snapping

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