Holding camera in landscape vs portrait mode

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by spacecreature, Aug 30, 2016.

  1. spacecreature

    spacecreature Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 7, 2012
    Hey guys,
    Ok so a while back I was watching this photography workshop and the instructor claimed he uses his 35mm (so 17.5 in mft) and holds his camera in portrait mode to elongate his subjects and in landscape mode if he is shooting a fitness model for example and wants to make them look bulkier. I just thought it was weird, I always thought compression and distortions were a result of how far you stand from your model and how you posed them . I keep learning new stuff and forgetting the old stuff I learned hehe so I might at one point have known this and have forgotten about it, but now this claim seems strange to me. What do you think? Or was he talking about the distortions like barrel and imperfections in the lens? Which might be different on the different sides of a lens. I know personally I like shooting with wide lenses to make models look more elongated and its true i shoot in in portrait mode but not intentionally, I never gave it much thought as to if I would get the same result if I shot it in landscape. I just assumed it would be the same?

    I know I could take my camera and do a test shoot haha but I prefer to ask here :)

    PS: I did not like that photographer all that much, he said many things that I know for a fact were wrong, so I am thinking this must be another wrong thing from a clueless poser?
  2. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    At that focal length you're just starting to get noticeable rectilinear wide angle distortion as you go out from the centre of the frame. So yes, if you put a significant portion of your subject out towards the edges, they'll be stretched more so on the longer axis as that places them further out from centre. For landscape orientation this means they'll get stretched wider, for portrait they'll get stretched taller.
  3. spacecreature

    spacecreature Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 7, 2012
    Is the "rectilinear wide angle distortion" a normal occurrence on all wide angles or is that like a defect or aberration on certain inferior lenses ? Though one should expect that sort of distortion I guess if everything in the scene is to be included in an image hehe. It is just strange that after shooting for a couple of years now, how suddenly trivial things become puzzling haha. I mean I know enough to avoid placing people at the edges in group shots coz they do get distorted , but I guess I stopped thinking about it and kinda do it naturally now, so my brain just stopped processing when he mentioned it lol.
    I am getting old :(
  4. vm666

    vm666 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 19, 2013
    No, that's normal, that's created by the perspective.

    I don't understand the whole matter though. Perspective does not formally depend on the lens, it changes with the point of view.
    Supposing the model is standing up, if he uses his camera in portrait, he has to move closer to the subject to fill the frame and increases the rectilinear WA distorsion. In landscape, he has to move backward and decreases the distorsion.

    Am I wrong?
    I don't see the point...
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  5. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Hocus pocus IMHO ;)
  6. sethrus

    sethrus Mu-43 Rookie

    Aug 19, 2016
    I think he's nuts. If he's using a "normal" lens for his sensor size, the lens he has is distorting and not quality.

    Sent from my STH100-1 using Tapatalk
  7. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Ya I am not really buying it either. For normal portraits at the distances from the subject and the focal lengths typically used, any lens distortion shouldn't really come into play. While 35mm (135 equiv) is wide-ish, I wouldn't really call is a "wide angle" when it comes to the problems associated with rectilinear wide angle distortion.

    And if you are doing something like using super wide angles and getting really close to your subject (basically trying to force wide angle distortion), then it is probably as much an effect of perspective from your distance to the subject as much as it is lens distortion. But at this point I feel such a photograph will look obviously manipulated for those effects rather than a subtle buffing up your body builder or making your model appear a bit taller and thinner.

    I would rather turn the camera in the orientation that gives me the maximum number of pixels on my subject.

    Of course, like all things photography, if that writer thinks he gets that out of turning the camera one way or the other and it makes him happy, then more power to him. :)
  8. Giiba

    Giiba Something to someone somewhere

    Aug 19, 2016
    Burnaby, BC
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  9. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Ya but that is a different effect. This thread was started because of the claim that by simply turning the camera from portrait to landscape WITHOUT changing either your distance from the subject nor your lens focal length, the writer is saying you can change the look of your subject (making them wider or taller).

    That link is all about perspective which is due to the camera to subject distance. It is also independent of focal length. What a lot of these types of web sites mis-info the reader is that it is the focal length of the lens causing this effect (from the article “amazing how focal length affect shape of the face,”) when in fact it is your moving closer or further away from your subject to get the same framing (magnification).
  10. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I think this might be what the person is getting at, I've shot these at 17mm.

    First one is changing distance to fill the frame in both cases:

    Second one is trying not to change distance, to keep subject size the same in the frame:

    In both cases smiley lens became more squat in the landscape one due to the forced distortion. These were shot quite close to exaggerate the effect... I think with a real portrait it will be much less pronounced.
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  11. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Right exactly what I wrote above originally. If you want to FORCE this sort of perspective and distortion with extremes in focal length and/or subject distance, it absolutely can be done. But for normal portraits with normal distances and focal lengths I bet most of us would be very hard pressed to tell the difference between two shots where only the camera was rotated from landscape to portrait.
  12. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee

    May 3, 2013
    I'll paraphrase something Ming Thein wrote that stuck with me: Wide angle lenses are for making closer subjects appear larger than the background.

    If you want to make a person look bigger, a wide angle will help (and 35mm counts as wide). If, for example, I want to make someone's torso look bulky, a vertical frame with the head close to the camera and the feet further away will give the impression of a heavy torso.

    Want to make the moon look large compared to the foreground? Better use a long lens. Want the foreground to appear large compared to the moon? Use a wide angle.

    It's not so much distortion or lens imperfections -- those could play a part, but on a lens-by-lens basis. It's a matter of perspective and the difference in distance to the image sensor.
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  13. vm666

    vm666 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 19, 2013
    Definitely the perspective here. However, you don't want to shoot a tight portrait with a lens as wide as a 28 mm (eq FF): the effect "big nose / small ears" is not natural, and ugly in most cases. Long telelens like 200 mm tend to flatten the face, the result is not great, although the effect is less violent than with a wide angle lens.
  14. spdavies

    spdavies Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 9, 2013
    Real Name:
    The effect of the wide-angle lens is most extreme at the top, bottom and sides of the image.
    Using the example of thinning the model, this means that she would have a long, skinny head and feet.
    And little to no thinning on her waist and torso.
    Not the type of thinning most models aim for . . . :shakehead:
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  15. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Real Name:
    Outside of the perspective of the subject is also the relationship of the subject with the surrounding border and the viewers perception.

    In graphics art using a 4:3 ratio if want something to look longer and skinner for the border, put the subject in a vertical/portrait view. You want squattier or more hefty - put the subject in a border that is horizontal. The perception can be changed by say changing the horizontal ratio from 4:3 to 16:9 which is perceived as being more visual interesting by the elongation of the border.

    A good example of the latter is the size of soft drink or beer cans between the US and Japan - it is amazing how this perception helps sells the product in different countries.
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