Photography 101: Finding the Best Shot — Portrait or Landscape?

Here’s my second contribution to the WordPress Photography 101 series. In it I challenge to to photograph a landscape scene with your camera in both landscape and portrait orientation. Post your results in the comments section below, I’d love to see what you’ve come up with.

The Daily Post

Last week, landscape photographer Jeff Sinon introduced the basics of composition and shared techniques on how to look for various elements in a scene. Today, he talks about scouting the best shot and deciding when a portrait or landscape works best for a photograph.

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18 thoughts on “Photography 101: Finding the Best Shot — Portrait or Landscape?

  1. What can I say other than beautiful. Jfeff Sinon has a very unique eye. You are right in reference to the landscape vs. portrait orientations. I am not a photographer but a ‘picture taker’ (lol), but I have found myself evaluating when to use one or the other. I am considering taking a course. Thank you for sharing your photographs.

    • Thank you very much. The fact you’re even contemplating using both portrait and landscape orientation tells me you’re more than just a “picture taker.” By the way, I’m in the process of coming up with some train, either online or through ebooks. Either way I intend to keep the cost very competitive, so stay tuned… 🙂

  2. I nearly always take landscape photos as I find my hand is steadier that way, but I will quite happily crop the photos afterwards in a portrait orientation if it shows the scene better. I always take high resolution photos so there is room for error and cropping without losing any resolution. Also when photographing our dog, a black cocker spaniel I always have to allow a larger frame as his movements are so unpredictable!!

    So looking forward to putting your brilliant tutorials into practice!

    • Hi Barbara,
      Hand-holding in the portrait orientation is indeed awkward, but the solution is very simple, a tripod. I never leave home without mine. And with a Really Right Stuff “L” plate on the camera at all times, one quick twist of the knob on my ballhead and I can change form horizontal to portrait in less time than it took me to type that sentence. I also use a remote release, but the camera’s self timer will work too.

      • A tripod would be a good thing, but I rarely go out to take photos, I just take my camera everywhere with me, and sneaking a tripod past my husband & children would be pushing it! I really must ‘make time’ to take photos!

          • You’re right, they deserve more than my ‘point and shoot’ attitude that I give it at the moment. I’ve bought myself a book about teaching myself digital photography with lots of practice exercises in it so need to plan a few days where I just take my camera (& tripod) and practice! I must get myself one of those ‘L plate’ thingies you talk about too

            • The bigger problem with the “point & shoot attitude” as you call it, is that if there is enough light for you to hand-hold the camera and still get a good sharp photo, you’ve probably missed a lot of the best light.

              An “L” plate is not mandatory, it just makes it a lot easier. The downside to that “ease” is cost. The “L” plates are usually designed for Arca Swiss style ballheads. A good, Really Right Stuff for example, there are others, can set you back in the neighborhood of $400+ U.S., with the “L” plate adding another $150 give or take. And if you get serious about tripod use you’ll soon start looking at a nice carbon fiber tripod. I hope your heart medication is up to date, because you can soon be looking at having $800 – $1,000 in just your camera support system. When I fist started taking my photography seriously, I thought I was going to have a stroke when I started pricing tripods and heads. But after going through progressively more and more expensive “cheap” tripods, I ended up with the Gitzo I have now.

              Unless you’re swimming in money, there are cheaper alternatives, though I advise against buying the cheapest tripod you can find. Only you will know just how much tripod you really need.

              • True, although with these ones I did use the bridge (over the river, not a technical term) to steady the camera and the timer to stop me shaking the camera, it really was quite dark

                My camera is a bridge camera (not river type) between a pocket camera and a dSLR. I need to play more with the manual modes before I start investing in an interchangeable lens system. As for tripods, I’ll stick with what I’ve got for now (husband’s heart attack quickly avoided there!) but I’ll look up some rotating plates to attach so I can swivel my camera easier, and start using the timer whenever the little red ‘handheld’ warning comes on…

                I haven’t really taken taking photographs seriously until this year, I have just liked noticing good shots and having a camera in my pocket to capture them.

                These are my first baby steps into ‘proper photography’ (I have a little post-it note reminding me what aperture, ISO, shutter speed and exposure are and how to change them! ) I also have no idea how to use photo processing software, but I have a copy of photoshop so another of my targets this year is to learn how to use it! So far all the post processing I do is cropping where necessary. What do you think of my photos from the botanical gardens in Dublin? The weather was perfect & I’m really happy how they turned out.

                I hope by 2014 my photos will be a bit less amateur, but for now, having people like you and Leanne Cole visit me and take the time to give me tips does wonders for my enthusiasm & determination to get better!

                • I have a friend who uses a so called “bridge” camera, a Canon G11, and her photos are beautiful! Once you get the hang of using the camera off of full auto mode, I think you won’t be in as much of a hurry to invest in a DSLR. It may, or may not, surprise you to know that about 90% of the time I use Aperture Priority, not full Manual. As primarily a landscape photographer I want control over the depth of field, I really don’t care most of the time what the shutter speed is since the camera is on a tripod. Actually, outside of photographing wildlife, the only time I pay any attention to the shutter speed is when I’m photographing moving water. Then I want at least a half second exposure, but often quite longer. Then I might switch to manual.

                  I’d also like to thank you for feeling my input is of value. As I may have mentioned before, if you ever have any questions outside of commenting on a post, click on that Contact button at the top and send me a quick email. Any time, really.

                    • For that there is no question, you will need a tripod.

                      I would also recommend a nice even overcast day for your moving water adventures. A little drizzly mist would be even better. The reason being, the sun hitting the white water is going to give you some big exposure headaches. The part you want showing nice and silky smooth will end up being an overexposed, featureless white mess.

                      One last tip, especially if the place you choose to go is popular with photographers. If you can do it safely, and are feeling adventurous, get your feet wet. I guarantee you that most of the people who may have photographed that spot have done so high and dry on the stream bank.

                    • I would have never have thought of going on an overcast day! Thanks for the tip. Will definitely bring my tripod and wellies 🙂 Watch this space!

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