Landscape Photography - Think “Inside” The Box

April 19, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Landscape Photography - Think “Inside” The Box

For this month I wanted to talk about the ‘box’ and not being constrained by it

Whenever we go out to take images we tend see the world through the ‘box’ that is either the viewfinder or the screen of our camera. 

If you’re shooting with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera then that box is a 3:2 format. Of course there are other formats out there but they are still a box that our image is trying to fit into.

So, when we set up a composition we are trying to see how that will look in the format that the camera is showing us. The problem is, that format may not be the best one for the scene.

Let’s consider some common composition challenges :

Distracting elements in the composition

These could be  elements coming in from the top, bottom or sides of the frame that distract from the composition or make it seem unbalanced. Maybe we could change the composition to avoid them but then the rest of the image doesn’t work as well

A boring sky

An untidy or “noisy” foreground

Sometimes the answer to these problems is as simple as re-considering the aspect ratio of the image.

A 16:9 crop can be very effective at dealing with boring skies and untidy foregrounds, and has the other advantage of filling the screen on most computers and tablets (which is the way a lot of images are viewed).

A 10:8 crop can do the same thing with distracting elements from the side (or from the top and bottom when shooting in portrait (vertical) orientation.

A 1:1 crop can be a very effective way to remove distractions on all sides while avoiding compressing perspective which would be the case if a longer focal length was used to avoid them. This format also works particularly well on Instagram.

Of course you don’t have to be constrained to any of these. 2:1 crops, 7:5 crops or even custom crops can all help to make an image work more effectively than you may be able to achieve by composition in the field alone.

Of course this shouldn’t be a substitute for good composition and the best effects are normally achieved when the format of the final image is considered in the composition of the shot.

Some cameras allow you to preview different aspect ratios when you’re shooting but, even if yours doesn’t you can still visualise what the final crop might look like when you set up your composition. I find that simply blocking off parts of the screen with my fingers gives me a good idea and I have become fairly well practiced in working out where I need to place my fingers to show the desired format.

Of course you could make up some cardboard templates with different aspect ratios that you could hold over the screen to see what the composition will look like after cropping.

So, next time you go out to shoot, consider how different aspect ratios could enhance the scene you are photographing and help you find better compositions.

To finish

Here are a few of my images that have been cropped to different aspect ratios to achieve the effect that I wanted:








Thank you for reading. I hope you've enjoyed this and found it useful.

Don't forget to check out my Landscape Photography Videos. My Youtube channel is HERE 

I'll be back at the start of May with a look back at life and landscape photography for April.




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