Sunday, October 15, 2017

Orientation of the Frame

"For the working artist, the very best writings on art are not analytical or chronological; they are autobiographical. The artist, after all, was there."
                                                                                              ~ David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear

This statement struck me as I read the book Art & Fear. This is the reason I write my blog, I was there and I want to share it with you. It's about taking you on the journey with me, sharing what I learn, and hopefully inspiring you to go out and take your own adventures in the process.

This blog is also my scrapbook and my journal, showing me where I have been, and how far I have come. And with over five years of content, I have visible proof that I have come a long way.

In the spirit of forever being a student, I signed up for David duChemin's photography class The Compelling Frame in September. It was an investment, but still way cheaper than taking a college level course, one that I would also have to drive to. This class I can take in the creative open air space of my porch, and in the comfort of my pajamas. And you all should know by know, I am self-motivated enough to finish the course. This course is changing my life, both as a photographer and as a writer.

There are 19 lessons and it is taking me about two weeks per lesson, so this course should carry me through the long boring months of winter.

In the first lesson we had to choose what we think are our seven best photographs and then answer ten questions about each one, you can understand why this took me two weeks, but what an eye opening experience. Some on my "best" photographs had many layers of meaning in them, others not so much. The average viewer might just think that it is a pretty picture and move on...or they might find some layers in it for themselves if they linger long enough, different layers than mine, but layers nonetheless.

I am currently on Lesson Three - Frame Orientation. On my adventure day this week, I spent a lot of time shooting scenes both vertically and horizontally. I thought I would share comparisons:

This beach was a new discovery for me, which always makes the shooting experience more exciting.

I could tell you what I think about these, but I am curious to know your thoughts: which do you like better vertical or horizontal? Why?



  1. The best piece of advice I received early on was the first thing you should do after taking a photo is change the orientation and take it again. In your first sample I like the 2nd better because there is more room for the eye to wander from the horizontal boards. In the second I like the 1st better because it accentuates the vertical and takes your eye with it. I'll have to stop back and see what others think. Which do you like better? When I go back and look again I start to question my response but I will leave it at that. :)

  2. 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...

  3. This sounds like a great class! I have a couple of David DuChenin's books- which are my favorites. I relate to his approach which is less technical (although the technical elements are there) and more about meaning.

    Interesting question. I think I like the horizontal photo better - I'm not sure why. There is slightly less distortion at the bottom of the frame. Also as Lisa mentioned, the framing is more generous - more space.

  4. 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.

  5. For both of your examples, I prefer the landscape orientation. Whenever the focus is on a pathway (or stairway) that travels through a landscape, I think seeing that landscape makes for a much stronger image. I love both of these. I've read a couple of David DuChenin's books, courtesy of my library system, and think I've learned a lot from them.

  6. That's a great quote and very true. I like the landscape view of the first. I think the 'rest' of the photo is part of the story. 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. This sounds like a great class. Your photos are awesome as always.

  7. 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.

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  9. You always find the most wonderful classes to take. I can tell you're enjoying this one! In the first photo, I like the horizontal. I like seeing where that wonderful boardwalk is taking me. In the second, I like the vertical. I love the feeling of height and climbing to the sky. Hope you keep sharing more of your class images with us. And, yes, I know you'll finish!

  10. I really like the vertical shots on both images. The vertical emphasizes the length of both the stairs and the boardwalk. But I also like the last horizontal shot, it seems to imply there is a great distance to travel. Your first fence image is great too. I just took about 20 minutes looking at David DuChenin's website, every minute worth it. :) I am looking forward to hearing more nuggets of his class and your beautiful images to go with them.

  11. 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!

  12. These are wonderful, Sarah.
    I am not sure why, but I tend to favor the horizontal orientation (not just here, but in my own work).
    However, I think the third one here, is just beautiful.
    My favorite one here is the second one.
    Simply perfect.
    Have a wonderful week!

  13. oh I just love that scenery, it's similar to what we have here in NZ.

  14. Depends, I guess . . .
    Love the first horizontal . . .
    and seemed to lean vertical on the rest . . .
    (I was right, I had missed a post!)


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