I’ve always liked wide. That’s true for lenses and, now, it’s becoming true for aspect ratio. I’ve been spoiled by HD TV where the native aspect ratio is 16×9. I don’t know why, but that’s what we ended up with and it’s kind of neat. I use DSLR’s using APS-C format sensors. That’s a 3×2 format, which isn’t too far off from 16×9. I guess if you are a square format fan, then these wide things are a bit of a shock. Interestingly enough, the Micro 4/3 format went in a more square-ish direction. So, if you shoot a lot of that and then try to view on an HD monitor or TV, you cut off a lot.
Here’s a recent image for kayaking on the Connecticut River in Springfield, MA…
…and I think that, as I was composing, even with the APS-C aspect ratio, I had the wider 16×9 in mind. Maybe not, but certainly I wasn’t thinking square.
Of course, the problem with wide is that to print it on something like 8×10 or 11×14, you end up cutting off some of the paper. Personally, I don’t mind that. It may make framing a bit tricky, but even that’s not a huge problem. To do it right, you should mat and cutting your own mat is fun. The mat, then, could be sized to a more conventional format. Or, you could just get frame sections and make anything you want.
Going for a vertical, on the other hand, presents some problems. Here’s a street scene shot on the same day as the kayakers. This one is 2×3, the default ratio for APS-C. If I were to use the 16×9 format, it would be a bit odd being so tall and narrow.
So, does this mean I give up on portrait oriented images because I’m leaning toward 16×9?
Nope. Not at all. You shoot what feels right, crop to whatever you like, and let the rest just play itself out.
But, there is one area where portrait orientation comes up against an interesting problem. That is in the area of display devices that do not support portrait display. What are they? Well, your HD TV for one, probably your computer display. Tablets and smart phones are OK in that you can flip them to the correct orientation. But, if you have a killer image that begs to be displayed in a portrait orientation, what do you do?
Triptychs To The Rescue
This got me to thinking that, maybe there’s an opportunity buried in this problem. What about triptychs? These are three panel display. They don’t have to be a panorama split into three, as is sometimes the case. They could just be a portfolio of three images that have some theme uniting them.
Maybe, going forward, as I shoot in a portrait orientation, I’ll start thinking about taking extra shots with which to make triptychs that display nicely on HD devices. FWIW – the collection in this triptych is a study of red-blue-green and tied together by virtue of window and sky.