Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Landscape - Project 2 - Horizontal v vertical

Essentially landscapes have a horizontality that is considered natural for the viewer, either when viewing a scene or when looking at a photograph. Our natural field of view is horizontally biased, our eyes like to work that way and our neck assists in this movement. The world around us is also in that plane, computer screens and televisions all horizontally aligned. So, when asked to consider landscape in the vertical alignment, we need to accept that the image will change in composition. Peripheral vision will be lost and additional space becomes available to allow more foreground or more sky.
In the images below, shot during a bright March morning, the sky was featureless, although blue. Example No 1 is a simple view of an area of common land near Castle Acre in Norfolk. The horizontal view allows the large tree to sit within the landscape and allows the viewer to see the pasture and smaller trees. It is essentially pleasing and with the low horizon.
The vertical option allows the composition to become symmetrical and the whole of the tree is visible. It becomes a simple illustration of the tree and nothing more.

Example No 2 is in the same area and shows a green lane with an un-bridged ford. The horizontal option is balanced and has a pastoral feeling. The composition is natural in the sense that the features are on the thirds and the light and shade forms a natural vignette. The vertical option is in this case not too dissimilar and could be considered as an alternative. The dark areas to the right in the horizontal have naturally been cropped out and the introduction of the blue sky offers another colour to compliment the greens and browns. For publication purposes the vertical option would offer more for a page layout, due to the general "portrait" orientation of printed matter and the requirements for space to include text, in this case within the sky.

In addition, although not mentioned in the brief for the project I have included a square format image, Example No 3. Many photographers, including myself have used 6x6 roll film cameras and for a limited number of occasions, the square format is not unpleasant. The ford scene is not compromised by this format. The period look of a square image suits the composition and offers a balance that the other formats did not achieve.

As an exercise, to produce horizontal and vertical at the same location, this is quite difficult. I have shot landscapes before as vertical, but only when the scene allowed that as the better option for composition.

I hope to pursue this further, and hopefully include more examples at a later date.

(Click on images to open at full size)

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to seeing more of these. I agree that the square composition is much the stronger - lovely light in this one also. I was very interested in your comments on vertical and horizontal crops. That said, in the first portrait picture I'm not sure that all the differences result from the format. You could have included more of the background by offsetting the tree to one side as you did in the horizontal image. Greater distance or a wider angle would also have let more of the background in - and potentially more foreground detail also.