Horizontal vs Vertical

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ECAUSE OF CAMERA DESIGN, it's only natural that most of us initially end up shooting all of our subjects inside a horizontal frame. When you consider design, plus the way all cameras are displayed in ads and on store shelves (i.e., horizontally), it's easy to appreciate why this is. The seduction of "horizontalitis" is so severe that, on average, 90 percent of the amateur photographer's pictures are horizontal. In one extreme example of "horizontalitis" I once had a student ask me if it was worth the money to buy a camera that shot vertical compositions. Yikes!

As most of you have discovered, your camera—the one that has served you well with so many horizontal compositions—does, in fact, shoot vertical compositions, too; however, I know you'd be the first to admit that most of your compositions are still shot inside the horizontal frame. So, why would you ever want to shoot verticals? To bring a feeling of dignity to a naturally vertical subject (i.e., a single flower on a stem), that's why! Dignity, strength, and power are the emotions evoked by the vertical line. Since we favor the horizontal, though, photographers manage to squash, squeeze, and push down the obvious vertical subject in order to make it fit inside the horizontal frame. The biggest danger in doing this, of course, is that you have to back away farther from the subject to make it fit inside the squatter picture area. And even though you made it "fit," you are now left with "clutter openings" on both the right and left sides of the frame. The easiest solution is to turn the camera to its vertical position. Voila, the clutter is gone!

and early to rise makes a young man healthy and wise. Yeah, right. At least, that's the response from many of my students who. when charged with getting up at the crack of dawn, more often than not vote for more sleep. Well, that's fine with me. since I can then have all of those wonderful dew-covered spiderwebs that appear in meadows from coast to coast all to myself!

On one such morning, while driving into the morning sunrise, a large field of backlit spiderwebs caught my attention, and not surprisingly. I was the only one around with a camera. It was one of those ideal spiderweb mornings, as the air was dead calm. As anyone who has ever photographed spiderwebs knows, even the slightest breeze can test the patience of Job. And as I've also discovered, the farther back I can be when shooting a spiderweb. the better—since even my own breath and body movements can cause a slight "breeze." Since my magnifications will be quite big and my shutter speeds quite slow, these subtle disturbances in the air will look a hurricane in the viewfinder. and no amount of sharpening in Photoshop can take an image of a blurry spiderweb and make it sharp.

So. having very carefully moved my tripod so that my point of view was as close to parallel to the web as possible. I set my aperture to f/16 and confirmed through depth-of-field preview that there were no distractions of contrast in the background that would call attention away from the web. I adjusted my shutter speed until 1/30 sec. indicated a correct exposure and fired off several horizontal frames. But I wasn't done yet. I had to make a vertical composition (see page 129J.

Micro-Nikkor 200mm lens, f/16 for 1/30 sec.

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