When out photographing landscapes have you ever wondered, “when is a good time to try a vertical composition?”

Horizontal image looking upstream towards Bridal Veil falls at Castle in the Clouds, Moultonborough, NH

The answer: 

Immediately after photographing the scene horizontally of course!

Vertical image looking upstream towards Bridal Veil falls, Castle in the Clouds, Moultonborough, NH

Personally I find that in a scene like this the vertical composition adds more depth to the photograph. Which is also why so many of my waterfall and stream photos captured this way.

46 thoughts on “Portrait, Landscape, Both?

    1. Thanks Scott! I find that in almost all cases when I photograph a stream like this the vertical ends up being my favorite. The better foreground being a prime reason.

  1. They are both beautiful, but I think I like the vertical shot the best :). I have started making it a habit to take both horizontal and vertical shots as much as possible, and it is quite interesting to compare the results.

  2. Awesome shots Jeff! I’m definitely a fan on the vertical here (as I’m sure you can tell from the ones that I posted). I really like your vertical one. I really really like definition in your rocks on the right hand side of the photograph, just barely underwater, and what the water does in the image after flowing over those rocks.

    1. Thanks Nate! I’m definitely drawn to vertical compositions when it comes to a scenes like this. In fact, for me the question should be “How do you know when to take a horizontal image?” I tell you, I love my Really Right Stuff L plate. Makes switching from portrait to landscape, and back again a breeze.

    1. Thanks Tina. I really need to follow that advice, but in reverse. I’m such a fan of portrait oriented landscape photos that I often forget to shoot the scene horizontally 😛

    1. Yes, especially if the like isn’t right. We were lucky with a nice overcast day, so getting the right shutter speed( the biggest challenge in these types of shots) was actually very easy. I only needed my circular polarizer. Usually in brighter light a neutral density filter comes into play as well.

    1. Valentina that “dreamy” look is created solely by the long exposure used. I usually try for at least a 2-5 second exposure to get the look I’m after. Though I’ve been know to use from 30 seconds to over a minute exposures if I’m photographing at the coast. That really gives the waves and surf an almost smoke-like look to it.

      A tripod is an absolute must, and a remote shutter release is very helpful. Though the cameras self timer works well too.

      1. Very helpful, thank you Jeff. If I photograph an interior room with the same technique, will I get a dreamy look as well, or that works better in the nature?

        1. That look would really only apply to anything moving in the scene. If you had a water feature, or even a running faucet in the room, the water would look like that. As long as the exposure was long enough. Otherwise a longer exposure really wouldn’t change the photo at all if everything in the room were sitting still.

          1. Thank you Jeff for your kind mini lesson. I love photography and I appreciate other people’s work in this field. It will take some time for me to get better personal photos. A professional takes pictures of my design work.

            1. Any time. I’m more than willing to share what little knowledge I have. I have probably mentioned this before, but if you ever have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

    1. One thing I find that really helps is to get low, and get wet. I’ll get right into the stream if I can do so safely, then set up a vertical shot that has a good foreground and let the stream lead the eye through the image.

  3. Yes, that is the correct answer. It is just a question of remembering to shoot both ways. Sometimes I forget. I do prefer your vertical in this case, but since you can always choose between the two later, it is important to remember to shoot both 🙂

    1. Very true. But like I mentioned in another reply, I have to try to remember to shoot horizontally. When I’m photographing a river, waterfall, or stream I’d say 60+% of the time the image is composed vertically.

  4. Oh I missed this one cause of my trip :). Top notch work, inspiring… Hubby does not like portrait formats, but I am very partial to them. In this case you have captured something amazing – intriguing view 🙂

    1. Thank you! I think you had a very good reason to miss it. Based on the photos you’ve shared so far I say Paris was very good to you.

      What do husbands know anyway 😛 I’ll bet I shoot between 60% – 75% of my shots involving rivers, streams, and waterfalls in portrait. I think they add more depth to the image.

    1. Me too. With scenes like this I usually go for a vertical composition first. Then I’ll try horizontal, but the vertical is almost always the one I like the best.

    1. My thoughts exactly! Besides wanting to stand out from the crowd of normally horizontal landscape photographs with my portrait oriented shots, in a scene like this I almost always like the portrait better.

  5. I try the portrait format from time to time and did so here last year in particular … http://lespetitspasdejuls.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/photo-of-the-week-the-legend-lives/

    it’s one of the picture I really like in this format and I love trying this perspective on things and places because it gives them another sense of perspective.

    between your 2 pictures, I’m like everyone else and can only be attracted to the second one, the portrait format gives it so much more depth.

    thanks for this new lesson on how to become a better photographer, or at least, how to train our eyes at things differently.

    1. Thanks Julie, I love that photograph!

      As the question goes, “When is the best time to take a portrait photo? Right after the landscape one,” or something to that effect, when I’m photographing scenes like this, I usually think the other way around and go right for the vertical composition first. Actually, the horizontal is almost an afterthought, and is rarely my favorite of the two.

        1. Great job on all of them, and I think I like the portrait version too. What I think is a little bit strange is that each photo is good on its own, but when I’m given the choice of two scenes shot both ways I almost always favor the portrait.

  6. They are both beautiful! However, I think that the vertical gives the essence of this particular view of the river, flowing down the line of the image toward the viewer. There is more power in it.

Comments and thoughtful critiques are always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s