Landscape or portrait orientation? On the art of procrastinating boring tasks

Procrastination is an art, one that I have mastered. My weekended plan was to investigate Mailchimp and see if it would be useful to me, but I ended up spending all my time shooting the leaf of an Agave plant, then investigating the best way to present its curve.

The orientation of a photograph (portrait or landscape) often impacts the way we perceive it. Flipping also may have an important visual effect. After comparing the possibilities for my subject, I decided to go with the original version, the one showing the leaf upright (portrait orientation), pointing slightly to the left. I chose that because the direction of the light, coming from the left hand side, seems more natural to me. That version is the one I uploaded to my new “Succulent leaf” gallery. However, I can see the appeal of the other versions of my photograph.

What do you think? Out of the possibilities shown below, which orientation do you prefer, and why?

Agave Curve, portrait orientation
Agave Curve, landscape orientation
Agave curve, landscape orientation, flipped

Resources: Digital photography school has an interesting article about choosing between portrait and landscape orientation.

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Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

19 thoughts on “Landscape or portrait orientation? On the art of procrastinating boring tasks

  1. I like the first landscape orientation because it is reaching up. Somehow reaching up means offering hope. I like your idea of flipping. I’m going to have to start doing that.

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  2. There are lots of theories out there about how a viewer ‘reads’ a photo. Supposedly when it flows from left to right viewers from cultures where language is read from left to right feel most comfortable while an image that flows from right to left engenders a sense of tension.

    Perhaps for that reason when it comes to the landscape orientation choices I like the non-flipped version as the thorn points the image from left to right (tension can be good but probably not in a calming leaf photo). I like both that and the portrait orientation version.

    Personally I think I like the landscape version a bit better but they are both really quite nice. You can put the landscape on the wall and the portrait on a magazine cover 🙂

    Procrastination? Hold my beer……

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  3. I prefer the one you chose as well. But I am sure others might have a reason to opt for one of the others. Although the flipped composition may not be it’s natural position the flow suggests a wing, albeit a dangerous one, and I like that too. I wonder how someone would respond to the three as a triptych with the portrait orientation in the middle.

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    1. I did that on Instagram a while ago, a triptych with the portrait orientation in the middle. Not many reactions as usual on Instagram for me these days. Thanks for stopping and commenting.

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  4. I started shooting in portrait mainly because my blog theme didn’t display landscape large enough and I didn’t want to make people click for a bigger image. But now I find compositions easier that way as well as filling the frame. I also love squares for the same reason although my mirrorless doesn’t have that option in camera for some reason.

    They’ll also make a great cover for my book which is on my bucket list right after joining a gym, quitting smoking and going back to school to be a brain surgeon. 👨‍⚕️

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    1. “They’ll also make a great cover for my book which is on my bucket list right after joining a gym, quitting smoking and going back to school to be a brain surgeon” oh my that’s what I call big life plans! Thanks for your input.

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  5. Like you, when considering my abstract photographs I’m often torn between different orientations. In addition to portrait and landscape, there’s also square, which of course requires cropping, given that our camera sensors are rectangular. With a square frame, there’s also the possibility of rotating 45°. Within any given frame, the image itself can be oriented different ways. Which framing and orientation I prefer for a given picture can change from day to day.

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  6. I’d lean towards the featured shot on this one. I can’t say, generally, that I have a preference for landscape over portrait or vice versa – whatever works is fine. I’m ok with custom crops too, if that’s what it takes to maximize the shot.

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