Vertical shots

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Feb 27, 2009
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I bought a battery grip for my D300 and decided to start doing some vertical shots. I've stayed away for them because I think they just don't look as good as horizontal. What do you do to make them look OK? The ones I shoot always have a cheesy snapshot look so maybe I'm just doing it wrong or in the wrong application. Suggestions??
Maybe I'm just used to seeing them horizontal.
I hope my point is coming across.

Here are some examples. Do you crop maybe or is the subjects just all wrong for a vertical shot.
These are just examples and nothing I want to keep.

Horizontal
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Vertical
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Horizontal
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Vertical
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Horizontal
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Vertical
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I think you shouldn't think of them as making a good landscape or vertical/portrait shots.

Focus on the shapes and forms and fill the frame with it. If it happens to work better when the camera's standing vertical, then so be it. Don't try to force something into a vertical picture if it doesn't want to.
 
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With the file sizes we have these days I don't worry that much about composition. I shoot almost evrything in lanscape and crop to portrait if I want. GH
 
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In my opinion the 2:3 format doesn't work really well vertically. Try cropping them to a 4:5 format instead.

Also, it depends on the subject. If you start with something that looks good in landscape, chances are it doesn't in portrait - and vice versa. Try taking pictures of trees, church towers, etc - portrait works better there :). As Bryan Peterson says, the best time to make a portrait oriented shot is right after you took the landscape oriented shot - and see later what works better.
 
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Good points. Maybe I'm forcing the shots.
2:3 or 4:5 I'm not sure what you mean.

Thanks
The ratio of length from the top and sides of a 35mm or DSLR image is approximately 2:3 inches. For example, if you were to get uncropped prints made, you would probably get 4x6 prints. Divide 4 and 6 by 2 and you get 2 and 3, or a 2:3 ratio from top and side.

4:5 is a more traditional ratio from back in the old view camera days when film was 8x10" or 4x5", or a ratio of 4:5. Enlargements were generally 8x10", or 16x20", etc.

Since most people look at their world horizontally, you see most everything stretched that way. Computer monitors are wider than they are taller. Billboards and signs are often wider than they are taller. And photographs are often made in landscape not portrait for the same reason. Shooting in "portrait" mode is a bit of a forced perspective. It forces the viewer to see the world in a different way than they normally would. It's great for isolating tall objects like trees, buildings, and landscapes. It's an obvious way to shoot people because people are usually standing up, so by shooting portrait you isolate the subject and remove distracting background elements. It also helps lead the eye to the relevant subject, since it will probably be the most dominant object in the frame. Or portrait could simply be done because that's the only way something fits!

I think what Lurker was trying to say is that, because people are used to seeing the world horizontally, a longer rectangular shape like 2:3 ratio can be a little goofy. It's kind of, well, too tall. By cropping the image to a 4:5 ratio, you bring the image closer to a square shape and one that is often more pleasing to the eye and easier for the brain to understand. Of course, this means you have to leave extra room when you compose the shot in order to trim it down later.
 
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In my opinion the 2:3 format doesn't work really well vertically. Try cropping them to a 4:5 format instead.
+1

I agree completely. Standard 3:2 frame in vertical is often "too tall." I usually crop it to 5:4 (aka 8:10) or 4:3 which makes it look more "natural" to me.
 
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One thing that is more pronounced on vertical shots is the collapsing perspective; i.e., vertical lines leaning in on each other from one side of the image to the other. This is easily visible with a building done in the vertical orientation. It does this with horizontal shots as well but is not so noticeable. Your birdhouse shot above is a good example of this.

I agree with what has been said about not forcing something to fit either vertical or horizontal. Let the subject be your indicator of which works best. Usually you want to isolate your subject and and this is a good way to accomplish that. They call vertical images "portrait" orientation for a reason. It works well for portraits; however, there are times when the negative space of a horizontal orientation when taking portraits might just be what you are looking for. Generally horizontal orientation works good for people looking to the side when vertical works well for those looking straight ahead.

As to landscapes there is no hard and fast rule and you must let your creative side dictate which orientation is best. Clearly your plant stand image above is far better as a vertical image.
 
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The shot needs to lend itself to shooting vertical. Some things look better landscape and some portrait, some both.... Vertical is very good for creating near far relationships.

Examples:

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This is as shot
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This is cropped 8X10 Portrait. MUCH more pleasing to the eye. I doesn't have the weird shape to me.
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Personally, I would never crop a vertical to 5:4 unless it was absolutely necessary, like for a commercial portrait. It's all a matter of taste, of course, but if your composition is strong, then 3:2 isn't strange in any way. And for the record, I tend to shoot vertical a LOT for any number of subjects, not just people. It's one of the main reasons I bought a D3, so I could shoot verticals with ease.

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I've always preferred a horizontal perspective in my photos, unless the subject truly required vertical (like Douglas's and Chikubi's beautiful work).

I then had a very rude awakening when delivering photos to a client intended for the cover of a local tabloid. My usual 90% horizontal ratio left the photo editor with 10% of my shots to choose from, and left me extremely embarrassed as a "professional". Fortunately I was very young and learned more than just humility from the experience.

I still shoot 90% horizontal, since that's the way I tend to see the world, but I also try to keep a clearer view of what the shot might be used for when composing.
 
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Personally, I would never crop a vertical to 5:4 unless it was absolutely necessary, like for a commercial portrait. It's all a matter of taste, of course, but if your composition is strong, then 3:2 isn't strange in any way. And for the record, I tend to shoot vertical a LOT for any number of subjects, not just people. It's one of the main reasons I bought a D3, so I could shoot verticals with ease.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3479/3999711477_2e1257c57e_o.jpg
I see that it works right here. This amazing shot would only have that effect in a vertical shot.
 
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I think it all depends on what you're trying to capture. In at least your first two shots the most interesting part of the subject goes horizontally, and there's just kind of dead space above/below in the vertical shots. If you're shooting something and it looks better in shot horizontally than vertically than shoot it that way...you'll know when flipping to vertical would better capture your subject(s), I think. And if not make it a point to look for things that go more vertically and try to shoot them that way. You should get a sense in time of when it's better to switch the perspective.
 
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I'm finding it very difficult to get anything good in portrait. The closest I can do is 1:1.


Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, University of Toronto.


Doors Unlocked and Open
 
Joined
Nov 13, 2008
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Austin, TX
I tend to let the composition determine my shooting position. However, the majority of my shots are in the horizontal position because it comes the most naturally. If you force yourself to shoot in the vertical a little more, you will find new perspectives on things you never thought about before.

Good luck.
 
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