For this exercise I was required to take 20 pairs of photos - one using a vertical and the other a horizontal frame. I decided to use the same focal length lens not just for each pair of photos, but for all the photos. I used the Canon 50mm f1.8. I did this because I thought it would show some consistency in the feel of the pairs of photos and also because it would take away part of my decision making process when looking for a shot. I hoped this would allow me to concentrate on the vertical/horizontal aspect of framing a picture. I also just wanted to practice with that lens a bit. There has been no cropping or editing done to these photos as I felt that the precise reproduction of the way I framed the shots was vital to the exercise.
Subject: Various around Manchester
Whilst taking this set of photos, one thing quickly became apparent - my decision as to whether to frame in the vertical or horizontal is one that I often do not consciously think about. When my eye is met by a certain scene I instinctively draw the camera up and look to frame the shot, regardless of the aspect. I found that I had to restrain myself from doing this and consciously frame in the vertical, take the shot, then adjust to the horizontal and re-shoot. This is not to say that I would never instinctively frame in the vertical, this happened often, but that it was a decision I was taking without properly thinking it through.
Each of these pairs of photos is different and some of them help explain the points of this exercise more than others. I haven't written an analysis of each shot as this post could go on forever. Feel free to have a look for yourself.
Sometimes I found that the aspect I initially chose was the best one for the scene, sometimes I found it was not. What became apparent, though, was that with a little adjustment (occasionally more than a little) to the framing, most scenes could be made to work both in the horizontal and the vertical. Looking through the pairs, I can choose a favourite from each of them, but is this the definitive 'best' shot, or is this just my subjective choice? Obviously certain scenes naturally suit a particularly aspect, but that is not to say the other way could not be equally suitable, if not superior - I think it is a matter of keeping an open mind before you go to frame the shot.
Equally, you could just shoot in square format, and erase this issue altogether. This weekend I saw a brilliant exhibition on Roger Ballen's work at Manchester Art Gallery. I think every shot was in square format. Did every shot he took over the last 30 years suit square format over a horizontal or vertical format? Certainly, ongoing themes and a need for a consistent style were present, and most of the subjects were intricately set up and precisely framed, but I'm sure certain shots could have been done equally well in another format.
So with this, I will go away trying to remind myself to be open-minded with my choice of framing and not simply conform to the standard set for that scenario which creeps in without my realising it.