The Importance of Aspect Ratios in Landscape Photography

The digital age and the ability to crop our photos however we want instantly has reduced the attention placed on aspect ratios. Nonetheless, aspect ratio has an important impact on many factors of your image, ranging from composition to printing. This excellent video tutorial features an experienced landscape photographer discussing the effect aspect ratio has on images and how to leverage it to improve the quality of your photos.

Coming to you from Christian Irmler - Landscape Photography, this awesome video tutorial discusses the use of aspect ratio in landscape photography. Modern digital sensors are almost always made in the 3:2 or 4:3 format, but that does not mean you have to keep the resultant photos in those ratios. While you can always crop in post, it is worth considering how you plan on framing the final image in editing, as this will allow you to account for it in the composition and minimize the amount of resolution you will lose when you crop to the desired aspect ratio. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Irmler, and try getting creative with aspect ratios during your next editing session! 

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out "Photographing The World 1: Landscape Photography and Post-Processing with Elia Locardi." 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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I agree with you on the importance of aspect ratio in photographic composition. Selectively choosing what does or does not add to the image is the essence of composition. My problem is not the fact of having to purchase odd sized frames to accommodate various aspects ratios, it is how these images are displayed electronically on displays formatted to accommodated wide screen video content. ie. 16:9. The vast majority of still photographs fall within 1:1 and 4:5 ratios and, in fact, all can be contained within a 1:1 square display more efficiently than on a widescreen display. Photographs are limited in size by the screen dimension, which, in the case of a square, is the same in both directions. This would enable all images to be shown in the same size, per aspect ratio chosen, in either direction. Unlike widescreen displays, which force vertical images to be displayed half the size of their horizontal counterparts, square displays allow images to be displayed full screen in their longest dimension with the shortest dimension determined by its aspect ratio. Unless you shoot primarily panoramic photos, a square screen with the same surface area as it's widescreen counterpart, for example a 16"x 9" and a 12"x12", both of which are 144 sq. in., the square screen is the most efficient of the two and the only one that does not downsize either image orientation.