Photography - Knowledge

Vertical Landscape Photography or Vertorama: A New Style that Photographers Love

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What is the first thing that pops into your head the minute you hear the word ‘panorama’? Usually, this word has the power of conjuring up images of beautiful landscapes, be the mountains, the fields, a busy city street, all in the horizontal view. Landscape photography sees a whole lot of horizontal compositions. Vertorama – an assimilation of the two words ‘vertical’ and ‘panorama’ is taking a shot vertically of a landscape or a vista, depicting more of the height of the image than the width of it.

The depth of the image is immense, with the ends of it reaching out far and wide to capture as much of the scene as possible but not caring too much where it comes to the height of the photograph. We have grown accustomed to viewing such photographs – mostly because this is our natural instinct.

Horizontal photography by definition is synonymous with landscape pictures and is so popular simply because it’s the way we view the world with our very own eyes. Horizontal forms, shapes, and lines bring about a sense of tranquillity and stability to the viewer. But that doesn’t put vertical landscapes photography out of the picture. Let's know more about it.

Portrait vs Landscape Orientation

What is the difference between portrait and landscape orientation?

Nature photography sees a lot more of landscape style of photography while abstract photography shows up more in the portrait mode. Admittedly to many, Vertorama doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable, it is an ideal method of capturing subjects that are tall in stature and which aren’t photogenic in the horizontal format.

Try capturing a high rise, a waterfall, the tree of a rainforest and you’ll understand the dilemma of trying to depict the scene as is in a horizontal way. Vertical compositions reveal elements such as height and strength of the subject which would otherwise be lost in a horizontal composition. 

vertical vs horizontal
Vertical vs Horizontal (source)

Reasons for Choosing Vertical Landscapes Photography 

  • A New Compositional Style 

Photography has many ‘rules’ or ‘guidelines’ like the Golden Rule, or the Rule of Thirds, Aspect Ratios, that enable any photographer to create good photographs. However, sticking to these guidelines limits your imagination, and your ability to bend the rules to make things work for you.

Since we’ve grown accustomed to creating landscape pictures horizontally, it should be a conscious effort to look for scenes and situations where you can apply vertical landscape photography and introduce this as a regular feature of your photography style. 

  • Eliminating Clutter and Adding Depth

The dimensions of a vertical landscape are enough to allow for capturing a foreground, a middle ground and a background, but without the inclusion of additional unnecessary elements which will draw away from the main subject.

You want your image to look crisp and sharp with just the right amount of surrounding incorporated so that it has a backdrop of context but doesn’t appear littered with unrequired frameworks.  

  • Extending the Boundaries of Comfort

Landscape portrait photographers aren’t born from constantly following the same method and not trying out anything new, even if it’s something as simple as taking a vertical panorama with an iPhone. If you’re prone to looking at a scene in a particular way you will always capture it that way, no matter what the vista is.

Adopt a new style of holding a camera, of viewing the elements, of portraying different segments in an image to get out of the rut.

vertical landscape
Bring a new element through vertical click (source)
  •  Commercially Handy Imagery

Creating vertical landscapes comes commercially handy too – think about all the posters, screensavers for our phones, magazine or book covers, right down to vertical pictures for our walls are all portrait oriented.

Sure, there’s an option of cropping a horizontal picture to fit any of these but that would not only crop out some elements of the image but also reduce the quality of the image. 

Best Ways to Shoot Vertical Landscapes

1. Adding Dead Space

Averse to the Rule of Thirds of photography, one of the better ways to playing around with vertical compositions is to leave some additional empty space as one of the major elements.

Not only does this play on drawing the gaze from top to bottom but works really well in commercial spaces where graphic designers can use the space to add text. 

dead space in vertical photography
Draw the attention by adding dead space (source)

2. Playing Low and Dirty

Panning the lens in a way as to get low and close to the scene will bring about a dramatic emphasis on the elements of the foreground. Shooting at as wide an angle as possible from low down and close will make use of the lens’s exaggerated perspective to make the surroundings look really vast and providing the necessary depth to the image. 

3. Going up Close and High

Moving above the foreground and mid-point elements while using an extra wide lens will lead you to highlight visual elements in an entire sweep of the scene. 

4. Elements of the Composition

While playing to the other guidelines of photography, say like the rule of thirds, you can easily have some elements that stand out majorly in different parts of your composition. For instance, the field in the foreground, the mountain range in the middle section and the sky in the background – a balance of elements in all of the zones makes for a perfectly crafted photograph.

Also, another way to depict this is with diagonal landscape photography to lead the viewer from one corner of the photograph to the other. However, keep in mind to keep the lines smooth and curved and not technically diagonally cutting through the image. 

vertical landscape photography
Balance all the composition elements 

5. Employ the L-Bracket

While more of a hardware solution and not really photography techniques, the L-shaped tripod which wraps itself around the body of your camera, allows for ease of camera mounting in the case of a vertical orientation.

This means you won’t have to deal with shifting the ball head’s mounting point onto its side to prevent it from being an obstruction.   

6. The Work of a Software

Instead of panning horizontally, pan the lens vertically and take individual shots of the same scene. Then, using Photoshop or Autostitch or any other favored software, you can simply ‘stitch’ these individual photographs together to create the Vertorama that you want. 

Summing Up 

No matter what the difference between portrait and landscape photography, there will always be more of an affinity for horizontal compositions.

The vertical photography definition could easily state that heightened projections are better off in vertical compositions, but until there is any conscious effort to take a vertical landscape photograph, the style seems less popular among photographers.

With verticals mostly being dominated by portraits, and horizontals being dominated by nature photography.

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