Dec 222012

IMG_2063I’ve enjoyed taking pictures since long before digital photography came along, and I used to pride myself on the fact that I would notice when a vertical composition was best.  You would see me turn my camera to capture the ‘portrait’ layout of a picture almost as often as I would hold the camera normally to take the ‘landscape’ version.

After a few years of taking digital photographs, and displaying them primarily on computer screens, I almost never use the vertical, ‘portrait’ layout.  It’s not because I object to having to rotate them; Picasa sees the camera information about rotating and does that for me automatically.

Viewing a landscape and portrait photo using Windows Explorer, the portrait version will appear sideways:

Viewing the same photos using Picasa, and it will automatically rotate the portrait photo following the embedded information from the camera:

Vertical Pictures don’t Fit on Computer Screens

I try not to take pictures vertically because they leave so much wasted space on the computer screen.  This is especially noticeable in slideshows.  Watch the following slideshow and notice how tiny the vertical photos appear:


To see how to make a slideshow like this, here’s the article: Putting a Picasa Web Albums Slideshow into a Website or a Blog.

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  7 Responses to “Picasa Tip: Don’t Take Vertical Pictures”

  1. Great discussion guys! Yes, there certainly are times when vertical is still the right thing to do. I think Laura said what I really meant … “it is both the subject matter and the intended use that may determine portrait vs. landscape.” When I started using a lot of slideshows and digital photo frames to show my pictures I realized how tiny and lost the portrait shots were. Since that is how I primarily display my photos – I try to stick with landscape layout – unless the subject matter clearly calls for portrait. And yes, Laura – take the shot BOTH ways! I like it.

  2. I couldn’t disagree more. The aspect ratio of the photo should be driven by the subject of the image. verticals will emphasize the height of the subject or crop out uninteresting elements to either side which might distract from the subject. When photographing people, probably 90% of my photos are in a vertical format because they better suit a vertical subject like a standing person. Not all images will be viewed on a computer screen… some of us still make prints! Compose to fit the subject.

    As for slideshows, what I will sometimes do if I have verticals is to put more than one image on a screen or alternate positioning of the image so that that subsequent slides cause the viewer to look around as the images change position.

  3. I’ll have to disagree, especially when taking portraits. You must back up much further to include a full body shot when shooting in landscape. As far as I’m concerned, the picture should always dictate which mode to shoot.

    • Excellent point, Oliver. I am a photographer for a major “attraction in Orlando” , and more than 90% of the photographs purchased by our guests are portrait for exactly the reason you give. I agree that for computer viewing landscape if more efficient, but from an artistic perspective, there’s a lot of reason to shoot portrait, not the least of which is for use in greeting cards! I most often use portrait format for cards because they stand up will on the mantel and generally fit the subject matter for photos containing people (hence the “portrait”! So it is both the subject matter and the intended use that may determine portrait vs. landscape. It pays to shoot both and have them available later for whatever you want to do.

  4. Good point, Chris. Another reason is that verticals usually look terrible in the thumbnails on photo gallery websites and on FB. However, verticals do look great on phones.

  5. Another reason to limit vertical photos is that the flash on most cameras is located on the top of the camera (especially with DSLR’s). Shooting horizontal photos hides the flash shadows behind the subjects, while vertical photos make them appear next to them.

    I also use a digital photo frame to display my photographs at our home; you’re right, vertical photos just look too small and have that obnoxious border on both sides.

    My wife has been preaching horizontal to me for the past several years. And as everyone knows, when momma is happy, everyone is happy.

    Plus with the high digital resolution of cameras today, even my little point-and-shoot camera has a 16 megapixel resolution, I can always crop the vertical image I want and not be too concerned with losing too much resolution.

  6. Hi Chris,

    This is another excellent tip, succinctly explained. And I enjoyed your using some of your SC photos as examples. Best wishes to you, Jim and Odie!

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