Understanding Aspect Ratio

Getting Started In Landscape Photography

 

What Does Aspect Ratio Mean In Photography?

It’s basically the way the photo is laid out, the numbers can look confusing when you start but you can easily break the down into something more understandable.

Aspect ratios for Landscape Photography

Popular aspect ratios: scroll down to see the diagram

Square: Used on Instagram:

This is 1:1 . That means the photo is an equal length on each side e.g. 10cm by 10cm

Standard DSLR Photo:

This is 3:2. That means the photo is 3 parts wide and 2 parts high e.g. 30cm by 20cm

Panorama

I use 3:1. That means the photo is 3 parts wide and 1 part high e.g. 30cm by 10cm

Stocky panorama ( I need a better name for this… )

I use 2:1. That means the photos is 2 parts wide and 1 part high e.g. 20cm by 10 cm

Notice a theme developing?
There’s probably a more scientific reason as well but this is all I need to know.

 



 

How Does Aspect Ratio Affect Landscape Photography?

3:2 Ratio

This is the standard ratio with DSLR’s, it works well in most scenarios as you can get a lot of the view in your photograph. If you’re using a wide angle lens this is probably the ratio you will want to use as you can get the full mountain and paths leading up to it in one photograph or like in the image below of “Walking the sunset skyline through the clouds

I manage to get the silhouette of Dow crag in the bottom of the photo with the people walking along the top as well as the other fells poking through the clouds as the sun was setting. You could do a tighter crop to make the people look bigger but I like how small they are.

2:1 Ratio

A bit like a stocky panorama, good for when the foreground and sky aren’t that interesting. If I used the 3:2 ratio on the photo below – Fishing in the fog on Coniston, there would be more water and foggy sky which wasn’t that interesting. Using the 2:1 ratio help draw the eye in to the image

 



 

3:1 Ratio

You often find scenes where theres a thin strip in the middle that your eyes are drawn to but you won’t be interested in the rest of the scene. The panorama is good for picking out the bits that you like whilst avoiding the rest.
In the photo below of Wise Een tarn. I was stood on a little hill, underneath where this photo ends is more grass and above was just blue sky. Neither interested me so the panorama worked best in this situation

 

Do I have to stick to these ratios?

No, there’s no rules. But you will find it more difficult to print photos that don’t fit into the more common ratios so I stick to these ones. It’s your call though

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What are your favourite ratios to use?

Comment below with any questions you have and I will try and answer them either in this blog or in a YouTube video

 



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