Photo by David Clapp
Orientation names suggest that landscapes should be landscape format and portraits should be portrait format and even though there are times when the subject will dictate the orientation, there are scenes where switching to portrait will benefit the shot.
Landscapes are very different when they are upright; they have much more depth and tend to emphasise the contrast between foreground and background.
The height of the picture allows you to make more definite use of perspective, especially if the foreground has a linear quality about it such as a field with ploughed furrows. The shape also gives you a more obvious opportunity to choose the position of your horizon. The rules of composition favour placing the horizon at a third from the top or bottom (actually three-eighths from top or bottom – which is fairly accurately the ‘golden ratio’). However, do experiment with more extreme framing to see what happens: placing the horizon right at the top or near the base of the picture.
Depth of field in landscape is rarely a serious issue, but if you like to play with focus then the emphasis that the format places on the perspective will also give you opportunities to exploit shallow depth of field. Of course, you can do this in a horizontal picture too, but it seems to crop up more often this way round.
Do remember that not all of us get it right every time and being able to change the orientation of a picture by cropping can change the dynamic of the shot entirely so it's always worth having a look at your images once home to see if a quick crop will improve your shot.
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