Portrait vs Orientation Landscape - Shooting Sideways

Armoured

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The normal human frame of vision is horizontal. I presume that's why film (and later digital sensors) on most cameras are oriented that way.

I understand that in addition to frame of vision, the eyes are much better designed to scan (speed-wise) side-to-side. And while our brains know this and normally compensate, there are lots of optical illusions that can eaisly fool us into "seeing" (estimating visually) vertical vs horizontal distances incorrectly.

Personally I often have the vague impression that square format images are just a bit taller than wide, even when I know it's not the case. Possible though it's the camera format of most 6X6 systems, but I suspect it's because of this type of bias.
 

ac12

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I used to wonder why computer monitors were always (mostly?) landscape orientation (throwback to TV's? ) as surely the majority of usage originally was for spreadsheets and documents in portrait mode.
Or was that just my working practice?

Some of the early dedicated word processing setups used a vertical format monitor, so they better matched a full page. I really like them.

But for spreadsheets, I rather have a HIGH rez horizontal screen, as I tend to go WIDE.
 

The Grumpy Snapper

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In the days when editors and publishers were prepared to pay for an image there was always a demand for portrait orientation for book and magazine covers.
 

SilverShutter

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I think most of my photos are done in portrait mode. I compose very naturally in vertical for some reason, just comes easy to my eye, and it sometimes is imposed when I am shooting for magazines and printed publications. Here's a random vertical shot I feel would lose if shot horizonally:

P8190197.jpg
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PakkyT

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but hopefully vertical video never becomes the default.

Unfortunately with mobile phones now, MOST of the video you see posted is vertical orientation. And then you have the person recording the video scanning the phone back and forth because it isn't wide enough to get everything in the frame. Drives me nuts. Just turn the phone sideways! But if you thought ergonomics of mobile phones were bad for photography, holding your phone sidewise for video is even worse.

For the brief time that hand held video recorders like the Flip Mino series were popular, they were brilliant in that you held the device portrait but the sensor was mounted landscape, so they were very easy to use and get a natural landscape orientation. I wish mobile manufacturers would do this, but then the photo or video would be 90° out of rotation with the screen, so people wouldn't like it when in use (even thought they would probably find they like the results much better).


brother in laws Fuji camera and the portrait view was much too narrow.
I think this is something we forget to appreciate in our m43 camera's!

Same with mobile phone cameras. I often notice, not soo much that it is too narrow, but that when I properly frame the subject, I feel I have a lot of side to side or bottom and top space that I feel needs to be trimmed off.


Although sometimes I shoot in H then crop for V.

Not really relevant to this thread, but I often do this (although the opposite way) for things like buildings where rather than using landscape (shorter buildings) and trying to use the keystone feature of my camera, I will instead just sacrifice pixels by shooting wide enough to be able to use portrait orientation and then place the building in the upper half of the frame in order to keep my camera as horizontally level as possible. Then when I get them on the computer I trim off the bottom space. It is faster for me plus usually these subjects are not ones I mind losing some resolution nor want to spend a lot of time setting up the shot for something that is more of a documentation type snapshot rather than some great work of art.
 
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ac12

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Almost all cameras are held in landscape by default and you have to turn them in a slightly unnatural way to shoot in portrait.

I think it depends on the camera and the designer.

Most of the MF cameras do not really look easy to use rotated.
The film Mamiya RB67 being the exception, with its revolving back :biggrin:
All the 6x6 did not have to rotate. You cropped for format in the darkroom.

35mm/FF/APS-C/m4/3 are generally designed for landscape.
I suspect that is based on the 35mm camera layout of a horizontal running film, rather than vertical. Then the industry just carrying that layout on to digital.
As was mentioned, if you did a half-frame on a camera with a horizontal running film, it is going to be a vertical format.

Then with vertical running MF TLR and SLR film cameras, when you go smaller than 6x6, like 4.5x6 you have a horizontal format.
If that MF camera had a horizontal running film path, like in the folders, the 4.5x6 would be a vertical format.
Similarly, if you made the format larger, like 6x7 or 6x9, the long axis will follow the direction of the film path, vertical for a TLR and horizontal for the folder.

As for "you have to turn them in a slightly unnatural way to shoot in portrait."
I think it depends on the camera and the shooter.
The old MF film TLR and SLR, yes, definitely very clumsy to rotate the camera.
35mm film, FF, etc. I have generally not had a problem. It may not be as simple as holding the camera horizontally, but not "unnatural." But then decades of use has just made that a non-issue for me. But I suspect, that it is an issue for a newbie who does not know how to hold the camera for a vertical shot.
Some cameras have a vertical grip specifically to address this issue. You can maintain your "normal" grip on the camera with the camera and sensor in the vertical orientation.
 

Armoured

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I think it depends on the camera and the designer.

It surely does - and there is clearly a very strong path-dependency effect, witness the 35mm format sticking precisely to the same aspect ratio as cinema (albeit in half-frame), whereas some new aspect ratio like 24:30 or 24:32 would have been technically simple, and the latter identical to four-thirds.

But I think it's not just the camera and designer - there's some inherent pull to landscape, it seems. And to some degree I think the small number of mass models whose primary mode is vertical attests to that. But only a theory.

As for "you have to turn them in a slightly unnatural way to shoot in portrait."
...
35mm film, FF, etc. I have generally not had a problem. It may not be as simple as holding the camera horizontally, but not "unnatural." But then decades of use has just made that a non-issue for me. But I suspect, that it is an issue for a newbie who does not know how to hold the camera for a vertical shot.

Well, just by size 35mm and lower are physically more amenable to holding vertically - add some practice and a better grip, sure, it's more than manageable. Smaller medium format like rangefinders are manageable, too.

BUT: to my mind, there's no doubt it's a secondary mode, not the natural or core mode of operation. And as another piece of evidence - despite ages and ages of development, I can't think of a single digital camera (except a phone) whose interface elements are designed for vertical, not even neutral - not even to be read in portrait mode, let alone operated. To fiddle with the controls, you have to go back to home (landscape) position.

Amazingly, my digital cameras all automatically tag the files as portrait or landscape orientation - but I can't think of a single one that switches the orientation of the electronic viewfinder/screen information when the camera is held that way. (Funny I had to check that just to be sure on my cameras).

There's no practical way to adjust the menu settings in portrait mode. Which when you think about it, is potentially annoying tripod-mounted, but serious shooters have equipment to rotate. At heart, they're just designed to be used in landscape and portrait's a distant secondary mode.
 
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mfturner

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I have, on rare occasion, intentionally choosen a 3x4 aspect ratio, giving a default portrait orientation. Yes, it throws away resolution, but not as much as the largest M jpeg setting, and I often don't need 20mpx anyway. For example, when I was hiking with my 14-42 ez lens, I knew i would crop any critter I would take a picture of because I needed more telephoto, and had time to change the aspect ratio for any scenic photo that needed wide field of view. It gives an interesting view of the world, not everything is suited for it. Maybe I'll walk around with one camera set up that way for a day or two to ponder it. Mostly I agree that I see the world horizontally and only rarely notice something interesting vertically. Maybe it is a learned skill?
 

ac12

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I have, on rare occasion, intentionally choosen a 3x4 aspect ratio, giving a default portrait orientation. Yes, it throws away resolution, but not as much as the largest M jpeg setting, and I often don't need 20mpx anyway. For example, when I was hiking with my 14-42 ez lens, I knew i would crop any critter I would take a picture of because I needed more telephoto, and had time to change the aspect ratio for any scenic photo that needed wide field of view. It gives an interesting view of the world, not everything is suited for it. Maybe I'll walk around with one camera set up that way for a day or two to ponder it. Mostly I agree that I see the world horizontally and only rarely notice something interesting vertically. Maybe it is a learned skill?

I think it is.
With 35mm it was 2x3 ratio H or V, so I got used to that taking format. Even though I could crop to any ratio in the darkroom.
It was only after getting a MF 6x6 that I "really" started seeing square compositions in real life. Very oddly, it was like a light bulb turned on.
So, just like me with the 6x6x, maybe if you spent a few days ONLY shooting in the vertical format, it may get your brain to see more vertical compositions.
 

Armoured

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It was only after getting a MF 6x6 that I "really" started seeing square compositions in real life. Very oddly, it was like a light bulb turned on.

This is absolutely true - our brains see what's put in front of them. I'm not shy about cropping in post, but I do notice that mostly I do this for photos that weren't 'composed' to begin with - e.g. people photos, action and others that are taken on the fly.

Which makes me realize that I've never used the in-camera crop/aspect ratio functions on MFT, and I really must experiment with that. What you see through the viewfinder as default really does influence what you capture, even if you think otherwise.

And now that I think about it - my reluctance to do use the in-camera crop likely goes back to a "don't throw away resolution" instinct, and MFT actually keeps the full capture in the raw file (doesn't it?).

In a similar vein, I've found the monochrome mode to be HUGELY different in practice (and a heck of a lot of fun), and originally I thought it was a gimmick. Even though I've been shooting B&W for ages, it's a very different experience to see (not just imagine) the scene in B&W. Experimenting is good and one more thing to try, now off to try the aspect ratios thing.
 

ac12

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For formatting, try an OLD trick that you sometimes see in old TV shows.
Hold your thumb and pointing finger at right angles, and do same with your other hand.
Now put your hands together so the two right angles form a square.
You have a visual mask that you can put over a scene to visualize the scene formatted square.

If you want to make it fancy, get a piece of cardboard and cut a square hole.
Or any other ratio HxV hole you want; 2x3, 4x5, etc.
You can hold it H or V to look at a scene in both orientations.

This makes it easier to train your eye, without having to carry the camera around.

@Armoured
A problem that I always had with B&W was conversion from visual color to film B&W.
Like put a person with black hair in front of dark green plants. The hair blends/disappears into the plants, because in B&W, they are the same tone of grey. :mad:
I have to try what you said, and set the camera to B&W mode.
 

Armoured

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For formatting, try an OLD trick that you sometimes see in old TV shows.
Hold your thumb and pointing finger at right angles, and do same with your other hand.

This makes it easier to train your eye, without having to carry the camera around.

Used to do those tricks in the old days, now, with more limited time, I'd prefer to do my experimenting with the camera in hand.

@Armoured
A problem that I always had with B&W was conversion from visual color to film B&W.
Like put a person with black hair in front of dark green plants. The hair blends/disappears into the plants, because in B&W, they are the same tone of grey. :mad:
I have to try what you said, and set the camera to B&W mode.

It really is useful and pleasant. One important thing to note: if you're using RAW files, the colour information is all saved in the raw file - you can easily switch back to the full colour version in most editors (it's just a flag on the file I think). Or save RAW+JPEG and pick and choose - le choix du roi!

As for your specific issue: keep in mind that in post-processing, you can adjust the conversion of colour wavelengths (darker/ligher) to B&W to avoid what you had there with shades becoming indistinguishable; just as with B&W film photography one would swap out orange/red filters for different uses. It's more convenient and precise doing it in post though (IMO).

So effectively you can treat the camera's monochrome as a first draft.

I presume it's possible to adjust the monochrome settings in the camera for the same purpose but I've not bothered.

It is worth keeping in mind that if you have - for example - reds and greens in the camera's default monochrome that become too similar, you will be able to fix that in post-processing to get the separation you want.

The only caveat is that the different photo editors have different ways of presenting/implementing this - some are more intuitive than others, and one reason why B&W conversion plugins are fairly popular.
 
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exakta

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Olympus had the answer back in the 1960s:

00P0P_bdcRKrBflOfz_0CI0t2_600x450.jpg
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The half-frame 35mm cameras were all prortait oriented.
 

exakta

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I used to wonder why computer monitors were always (mostly?) landscape orientation (throwback to TV's? ) as surely the majority of usage originally was for spreadsheets and documents in portrait mode.

I was using computer CRTs for years before VisiCalc was invented. The first Mac I saw blew my mind...what were all these little icons, where was the command prompt? :laugh: This is what computer terminals looked like before the Macintosh arrived:

DEC_VT100_terminal.jpg
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Today, of course we have monitors that can be rotated.
 
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This is really the main reason why landscape orientation is the default, in my estimation.

The normal human frame of vision is horizontal. I presume that's why film (and later digital sensors) on most cameras are oriented that way.

This is the obvious answer. We see the world in Landscape format.

That makes sense for us too. The majority of things that catch our attention are around us as we walk through life, not above or below us.
 
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