Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Let's Discuss - Orientation of the Frame

I have a wish. My wish is that we could all gather for coffee at my favorite up north coffee shop. Steaming white ceramic mugs of black pour-over coffee, and lattes clustered in front of us on the pushed-together round wooden tables. Canons, Nikons, Fujis, Sonys, and iPhones would rest next to each of us as we discussed photography, travel plans, and life. But logistically and monetarily it must remain a wish. The next best option is a blog post.

I have always, always shied away from criticism of any sort; either asking for it or giving it, constructive or otherwise, self-critique or from peers. But what I am learning from The Compelling Frame course is that I have been missing valuable information, missing the way others see life. So I'm  glad that I did the post on Orientation of the Frame, I am also glad that I asked for your thoughts, and delighted that many of you were brave enough to give those thoughts.

After the first few comments I began to worry that everybody would have the same opinion. This then made me think maybe I had skewed your vision that way because of the way I felt about the scene. Thankfully then someone stepped up with a different viewpoint, and valid reasons behind their viewpoint.

This from Lisa: All four photos are beautiful ! I like the horizontal versions of both scenes better..I love your choice of the beach as subject..In the horizontal orientations, I see that the amount of negative space (leaves and grass) framing the walkways is more generous..IMO in both cases, this extra negative space makes for prettier compositions...

I LOVE negative space. If I could put it plentifully in each of my photographs I would be very happy.   As I delved into the negative space aspect, I realized I will orient the frame to which ever option will give me the most of it, eliminating clutter and chaos. I know - match your frame to your lines, but honestly I match my frame to negative space. 

Donna made me so happy with this comment: I have to agree there is something about the horizontal that you get to see more of the area it doesn't feel as cramped. Love the golden color, I'm so happy that you are willing to share your excursions with us, I feel like I'm on a late evening walk right before dusk and want to take time to enjoy but also want to get home before it gets dark out. Winter is coming.

Donna added her story to it. Story and feeling are things I continually work on, and am excited to explore in later lessons of this class. 

Teresa says: In the first set of photos I like the vertical shot. For me the focus is on the path and the possibilities it presents. I like the horizontal shot in the second set because the path disappears into the landscape inviting the viewer to imagine what lies beyond the immediate path.

Teresa sees the possibilities at the turn of the path, she wants to keep going. The very reason I love paths, to see what is around the next bend, it could be boring, but it could be spectacular. 

From my dear friend Leon: I definitely prefer the vertical of the first set, because it emphasizes the path itself, which is clearly the subject. When I first viewed this post on my iPad, I also liked the vertical of the second set (the stairs), but now that I'm looking at it on my computer screen, I really like the horizontal one. I think the including the grass on each side of the stairway adds dimension and a sense of place to the shot. Also, I have to say, your other photos in this post are wonderful! 

Interesting to note the device you view these on can influence your opinion. 

My Thoughts:

The first one - I love the horizontal version. I think, as much as, my intended subject was the path, it was just as equally the sky. We don't often get interesting clouds like that. The eye moves down the path towards the openness. I think this openness translates into the freedom I felt standing on that path: no worries, no responsibilities, no guilt. If I didn't have the opportunity for freedom, the tighter constraints of the vertical image may have more closely matched my feelings. Sure I could have made the sky more dramatic in Lightroom, but I like the calm fading away feeling. 

My friend Jessica, who is in class with me, suggested that I try standing diagonal to the path for even more interesting lines. I wonder how that would affect my feeling for the sky, the feeling of freedom. Sounds like the perfect reason to go back. 

The second one - the more I look, I don't really like either. The vertical feels too tight, and the horizontal, I agree with Roxi's comment: The last one I'm picking the portrait view because it pulls the eye up. The other brings to mind bug legs and I don't think that part of the structure is necessary to tell the story.

I don't like how stairs make me feel: out of breath, burning thighs, and many times an aching back the next day, maybe that comes through to me in my photograph.  Not adventure but pain.

Thank you to all of you who voiced their thoughts. Next lesson is Line and Shape. After doing my homework I may be back to ask for your help again. 


  1. It would be interesting, if (when!) you go back, to try both shots from a different angle. Perhaps the stairs would be more pleasing if you photographed them from farther back, or on a diagonal, so you could see more about where you're going rather than looking straight up at that daunting climb. Thank you for asking for opinions! It was interesting to read what everyone thought, and why.

  2. Two things: first, I do the same thing when composing a shot and compose it in such a way that the negative space is prevalent. It's an unconscious act, I think. I love wide open spaces because I like to see as much as I can and not feel cramped. I like giving the subject all the attention, the spotlight, if you will.

    Secondly, I prefer the horizontal photo of the boardwalk because of the sidelight streaming in from the left of the frame. That light makes the whole scene "glow-y" to me and brings out the shadows of the dunes in the background, giving the image a sense of depth. All of these photos are lovely, Sarah, and can't wait to see the next installment. (And I'm sorry if I left a similar comment: I'm not sure if Mr. Google likes me or not this morning!)

  3. LOVE all of the new photos you posted! What an eye opener. I knew there was something about your photos I really enjoyed and now I know it's the negative space. I went to my Flickr account and realized I very seldom leave negative space, I crop or take a close up. I hate clutter in my life so I'm not sure why I don't leave open space in my photos. I'm going to have to start thinking negative space with a positive attitude. Again thank you for sharing. Living Life Joyously.

  4. This was great! I'm a lover of negative space. Seems it shows up more in my dslr than my phone.

  5. I think I must have missed a post .. . .
    I love all . . . and really love “reading you.”

  6. I enjoyed reading all the different opinions about horizontal or vertical. I rarely take vertical, everything just seems closed in and busy. Maybe using that negative space would help. Looking forward to the next chapter!

  7. What a great follow-up post, Sarah!
    I am looking forward to Line and Shape.

  8. What a wonderful wish! That would be great to get everyone together, sit with a cup of coffee and talk photography. I enjoyed hearing how everyone feels about the images. The different views on vertical and horizontal will make me think a little more before I press the shutter button. Or maybe I will shoot both, vertical and horizontal, just so all my bases are covered when I look at my photographs on the computer. :)

  9. You brought up such an awesome and fun discussion! Thank you for sharing your exquisite shots! I too feel like we are all friends, sitting at coffee talking photography..My besties and I enjoy weekly coffee get togethers and we often talk about photography :-)

  10. I'm late to the discussion but find it all interesting. Frustrating to me that the device on which it's viewed has such an impact, but it does and how could it not? I guess that too is part of the "art". Like choosing a frame for a photograph. It matters.

  11. I forgot to comment on your last post (too much happening here). Anyway I generally prefer to shoot my photos in the Landscape (Horizontal) position rather then Portrait (Vertical) but that's just me. I thought all the shots were really great though. Sometimes you get a different perspective from the different orientations. So my opinion is to shoot in both that way you can't go wrong. I think it's all in how each individual sees things. - By the way I love the web here.

  12. Your photos in this post are amazing. Especially 1,4,and 5. Love them.

  13. I always used to shy from criticism, also - but at some point in my professional life I learned its value (as long as it is constructive and isn't personal). Your observation about the stairs really points out how we all bring our own experiences to the way we view things. I love climbing - and while I don't love climbing stairs - I always want to get to the top and am drawn in to this scene. Roxi's observation about bug legs makes me laugh - I really hadn't noticed that - but can see it; I don't fee too distracted by it, though.

  14. It's always interesting to go out on a photo shoot with another photographer. I love to see what catches their eye... and it's almost always different from what I see. I shy away from criticism, too, but I would like your kind of gathering. Sitting together with cameras on the table, sharing photos, and going out to take pictures together... I'd be there!

  15. artists are their worst critics and hate criticism...positive and negative. But when we let our walls down and become vulnerable we learn so much more....beautiful photography


Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)