body of water during golden hour
Photo by Sebastian Voortman on

Day Three: “Water” — Image Orientation

We all have stories about water: how it has saved or defeated us. How it reminds us of family vacations, outdoor adventures, or the hot summers of our childhood. How it symbolizes a place we’ve left behind, or one we dream of visiting.

Here are the bright blue waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, at the site of a shipwreck off the coast of Bermuda:

How will you interpret today’s theme?

Today’s Tip: Ever wonder whether a photograph will work better horizontally or vertically? After you snap your picture, rotate your camera and take a shot from the other orientation — horizontally if you first took the picture vertically, and vice versa. Which way works better?

Day Three: “Water” — Image Orientation

Humans have binocular vision — which means we have two eyes, adjacent to one another — and naturally scan a scene along a horizontal, rather than vertical, plane. When composing today’s photo of water, experiment with both horizontal (landscape) and vertical (portrait) orientations.

If you’re aiming for a wide establishing shot, what orientation works better? How does a vertical shot affect your scene? In today’s shipwreck image, the horizontal format captures the wide expanse of the sea in the background, which makes the focal point — the tip of the ship — all the more dramatic.

Before you draft your post, study the different shots you’ve taken. Publish your favorite version — or publish both and let your readers compare the two takes! Here’s a shot of a man jumping off a cliff in Ibiza, Spain — while a horizontal image could work, the vertical orientation adds drama by emphasizing the height of the cliff and the man’s plunge into the sea:

Vertical shot of a man jumping off a cliff at Cala Tarida on Ibiza by Cheri Lucas Rowlands.
Vertical shot of a man jumping off a cliff at Cala Tarida on Ibiza by Cheri Lucas Rowlands.

If you need inspiration, the submissions for this “One Shot, Two Ways” challenge show how others have tested horizontal and vertical versions of the same scene.

When photographic large bodies of water, the one thing most people miss is to watch the horizon line. If you follow the rule of thirds, then make sure the horizon is placed on one of the third quadrants. Like this:

Thank you for joining in this exciting new program of “basic photo instruction” and learning how to take the different types of photos. Today was day 3 of 10 days, so come back tomorrow!

Speaking of water, click on this link and see all the different products related to water. (click on the red: water).

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