Vertical and Horizontal Frames

As the majority of photographs end up being taken in the horizontal format (or landscape) this exercise was to show that most scenes can also be taken in the vertical (portrait) format with pleasing results. I have already commented on my thoughts about this exercise and vertical vs horizontal format in a previous post here. I was tasked to take 20 photographs in vertical format and then after reviewing the results take the same twenty shots in the horizontal format. I set out with the intention of taking a variety of images that I thought: a) Would only work in a vertical format. b) Were ambiguous in their nature and could be viewed either vertically or horizontally until the fuller picture was revealed by the horizontal shot, thus giving them context. c) Could be viewed in either format with equally pleasing results. The photos were taken two days apart so the lighting conditions were different but other than that the images should be quite similar in content where possible. I have posted the pairs of images below and commented on each.

Vertical 1

Horizontal 1

I felt there was ambiguity here as I don’t speak Chinese and so the character I took the photo of could have been viewed horizontally or vertically. However, the horizontal shot shows there is only one was up it could be.

Vertical 2

Horizontal 2

I took the vertical image because I could see various tall subjects within the frame. The crane in the background, the lamposts and the road sign dead centre. I feel actually the horizontal counterpart works just as well. It just doesn’t reflect the ‘tall’ subjects and somehow condenses them in to the rest of the photo. Although quite mundane subject matter I quite like the composition with the road sign splitting the frame straight down the middle. During 80s Britain this could have had quite a Political context during Thatcher’s reign.

Vertical 3

Horizontal 3

I was undecided whether this would work better vertically or horizontally when I took the photos. On reflection I prefer the horizontal version is favourite, the composition works better although the blue sky in the vertical version is nicer to look at.

Vertical 4

Horizontal 4

I was convinced that this image would only work vertically but actually like both the results. If anything the vertical cranes are in a more pleasing configuration compositionally. But having some space in the horizontal balances well with the sun on the right. I was fortunate to have similar cloud cover on both days to create a similar effect.

Vertical 5

Horizontal 5

What continued to surprise me during this shoot was how little things had changed or moved within the two-day period of my absence. Indeed the same magazine I took for the first shot was still there two days later! Again both shots works well on their own, each with their own merits.

Vertical 6

Horizontal 6

Again some ambiguity, this time with patterns. In fact both shots could sit equally well when turned 90 degrees.

Vertical 7

Horizontal 7

I think the vertical shot lends itself to the leaf patterns here although again there is no real way of telling which way up either of the photographs should be. As the photographer it is only I that know for sure.

Vertical 8

Horizontal 8

I really like both of these images, which is proving the point of the exercise. The vertical shot gives quite an imposing shot bearing down on the viewer. The dark uppermost of the image helps reinforce this. The horizontal shot gives a better bokeh, showing of the ageing shutters behind the lion.

Vertical 9

Horizontal 9

In this instance I prefer the vertical shot. It fills the frame and has good colour and clarity. It shows of the detail of these Peranakan tiles in front of a house. The horizontal image doesn’t give the same impact although there are some interesting shapes and extra colour but is a bit flat.

Vertical 10

Horizontal 10

This shot was taken with the vertical in mind. When I took the horizontal version I had to include more of the road than I would have liked and also now the sky is very over exposed. The chair is also very central to the shot which I’m not too keen on as it doesn’t balance well. On the left are roller shutters which also don’t look very good and are under exposed (as I was exposing for the chair).

Vertical 11

Horizontal 11

Both images work well. The vertical frame of the doorway frames the shot nicely. The horizontal version has much more yellow and cracked paintwork giving a nice texture.

Vertical 12

Horizontal 12

As it appears I didn’t get absolutely head-on with the subject the vertical composition suffers here. Otherwise I quite like the detail of the image. The air-con extraction tube pointing straight down on to diners is a favourite. In the horizontal version this is lost in to the background somewhat as the composition takes in the general ambience of the scene.

Vertical 13

Horizontal 13

Similarly to the above shot of the chair, this one ends up with quite a lot of road in the shot plus an annoying lampost. It was shot with the vertical in mind and in this instance the vertical composition definitely works the best of the two.

Vertical 14

Horizontal 14

I was trying to show the myriad of AC units that adorn the average building in Singapore so I think the vertical works well here. The horizontal image then shows the limits of how many units there are. I could have possibly got more units to the square inch with the vertical shot by the looks of it. I’ve also cropped half a window on the left which isn’t very pleasing. A tighter crop would have given a much better image on reflection.

Vertical 15

Horizontal 15

Both images work well here. The vertical isolates the flowers making quite a nice portrait. The horizontal puts them into context outside the condominium block.

Vertical 16

Horizontal 16

The vertical shot shows a much cleaner image than the horizontal here. I can get the whole shophouse in frame and expose well for it. The horizontal image has the next doors house with shabby blinds out the front and cars in front of the houses (although of course this is not permanent). Also, due to physical constraints, I can’t get far enough away from the houses to shot them straight on. This means they are at an angle. I would have preferred to shoot them head on for better framing.

Vertical 17

Horizontal 17

The colours and texture of this house attracted me. Both shots are OK but not great. In fact the horizontal gives a bit more to the shot with the angles of the other buildings framing the green quite one nicely.

Vertical 18

Horizontal 18

In order to get all the shutters in frame I had to also get the small window at the top in shot when taking in the horizontal frame. I didn’t like this. So it would appear that the vertical shot was the ideal framing for this.

Vertical 19

Horizontal 18

Both framings work well here. The vertical accentuates the height of the buildings and length of the alleyway. The horizontal brings in to focus how the alleyway is packed with clutter. A swing, plants, washing, garden ornaments and their relationship with the doorways that back on to the alleyway.

Vertical 20

Horizontal 20

This is the same green building as shot earlier in the sequence, this time from the opposite side. If I cropped the horizontal shot I would end up with a very similar shot to the vertical minus some foreground. I think this demonstrates that one can shoot vertically horizontally quite effectively and end up with results that are pleasing in either format.

As suggested in my earlier blog post, I tend to already look for the alternative framing when taking photos so this was an exercise I was comfortable with. I would suggest though that when framing specifically for vertical shots it can be very difficult to make them work equally as well horizontally. That’s why we, as photographers, have the autonomy over the subject to get the most from it.

3 thoughts on “Vertical and Horizontal Frames

  1. I envy you your location. I’ve only been as close to China as Singapore, and that only gives a taster. Your photos are really interesting, and outstanding within this OCA course.

  2. Pingback: Horizontal and Vertical lines | BA Blog

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