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Are you in the habit of holding your camera horizontally? Although it’s fine to shoot horizontally (called the landscape orientation) in many situations, keep in mind that holding your camera differently can dramatically change the impact of the photo. Have you, for example, turned your camera 90-degrees so you’re shooting vertically (called the portrait orientation)?

Look at these two photographs of the same sunrise scene. The photo on the left is horizontal (landscape) and shows plenty of the lake near the edges but not as much of the sunrise. The photo on the right is vertical and emphasizes the sunrise and the rays of the sun on the water much better.

Sunrise scene in horizontal (landscape)

Same sunrise scene but vertical (portrait)

Although it can be a little awkward at first to hold the camera vertically, you may be amazed at the difference it can make to the photo. This is especially true if you’re taking a photo of one person. It’s almost a crime not to shoot vertically in these situations because otherwise you’re wasting so much of the photo area at the edges.

The Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

The same lighthouse but vertical

Even when you are shooting landscapes, you will find that, sometimes, the picture will look more dynamic when you hold your camera vertically.

The Mackinac Bridge horizontal

The same scene but vertical

Whether to shoot vertical or horizontal is all about experimenting which is easy to do with your digital camera. So the next time you’re holding your camera horizontally and take a photo, turn the camera 90 degrees and take the same photo again vertically. Then decide which one you like better.

Written by Scott Slaughter