Tip of the Day: 7 Reasons to go Vertical

When should you shoot a vertical? Whenever you shoot a horizontal. Seriously, many photographers overlook the advantages of the vertical shot, which are many.• Portraits: Verticals aren’t called “portrait orientation” for nothing. The 3:2 aspect ratio of most film and digital SLRs closely matches the proportions of the human face.

When should you shoot a vertical? Whenever you shoot a horizontal. Seriously, many photographers overlook the advantages of the vertical shot, which are many.

•  Portraits: Verticals aren't called "portrait orientation" for nothing. The 3:2 aspect ratio of most film and digital SLRs closely matches the proportions of the human face. The best way to avoid a distracting background is to leave it out to begin with, so turn that camera sideways and fill the frame with the face.

•  Deep space: Verticals let you get a wider angle of view with the same focal length, as they can take in low foreground detail without losing the background.

•  Reflections: For those puddle/pond reflections, go vertical. This will let you take in more of the skyscraper or the mountain. Try framing nothing but the puddle reflection.

•  Dynamic space: The vertical (standing) format is inherently more dynamic than the horizontal (reclining) format. If the picture looks flat and lackluster, add a jolt with a vertical. Curves and lines moving through the frame help.

•  Neater stitches: If your widest-angle lens isn't wide enough to capture your subject, and you decide to stitch, verticals attached along their long side give you a more manageable final image shape (a conventional rectangle) than merged horizontals, which become unwieldy long ribbons.

•  It's only natural: Some things are by their nature verticals—skyscrapers, redwoods, statues, giraffes. You'd be surprised how many people forget this. Defy expectations: Take verticals just for the heck of it, even if you know it should be a horizontal. Look for an interesting crop of the big horizontal scene. You never know.

(Picture Doctor, January 2009)

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