Horizontal vs. Vertical: River of the West   9 comments

The Columbia River rolls west toward the Pacific, as viewed from the mossy banks on the Oregon side.

The Columbia River rolls west toward the Pacific, as viewed from the mossy banks on the Oregon side.

 

A short post on one of my favorite places to go when I sense a nice sunset coming up.  The River of the West is of course the Columbia River.  The North American continent has some big rivers, most draining the older eastern part of the continent.  But there are a few big ones in the west too.  The Columbia is one of these (The Yukon and McKenzie are two others).  The big river originates high in the Canadian Rockies and empties into the Pacific at the charming little town of Astoria, Oregon.  Lewis and Clark, the pair of explorers that Thomas Jefferson sent out west in 1804 to map a route to the Pacific Ocean from America, passed this spot.  Who knows, they might have stepped ashore here, stepping from their canoes to stretch their legs.

This spot is just 20 minutes or so from my house.  The river is wide here, and is influenced by tides despite being many miles from the ocean.  I scrambled down these rocks, nearly falling because of their slickness.  A rainshower had just passed, giving the moss, rocks and sky a fresh look that I think really adds to the photo.

I am posting both the vertical and horizontal versions.  I will often shoot both formats.  Sometimes one of them just jumps right out as the superior take.  But often I’m left wondering which one has more impact.  This might be the case here.

When there are many vertical elements in your composition, such as trees or tall buildings, a vertical composition is most often the best choice (not always though).  When you have an expansive composition, perhaps taken with a wide-angle lens, a horizontal composition often works better.  If there are layers in the scene, such as that provided by flat clouds or contrasting levels of ground, trees, mountains, etc., a horizontal composition is definitely worth it.  But do not think just because you have horizontal layers that a vertical composition will not work equally as well.

What I’d like to know is which one you prefer, the horizontal image above or the vertical one below.  Feel free also to post a pair of images on your own blog, same scene but one horizontal and one vertical.  Then post a link in your reply here so people can take a look and give their opinion on which format they prefer.  I suppose it would be a theme/challenge.  Thanks very much for looking!

The lower Columbia River in Oregon flows west toward the Pacific past the moss-covered rocks lining its banks.

The lower Columbia River in Oregon flows west toward the Pacific past the moss-covered rocks lining its banks.

 

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9 responses to “Horizontal vs. Vertical: River of the West

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  1. I prefer the portrait image, for me it has more focus in the composition. the Landscape is nice but that is all i can say because if you take a picture of a sunset they normally look good. With the Portrait I get more of a feel for the area and the landscape as well as the sunset shining through.

  2. Thanks for the feedback all. I encourage either going out to shoot a pair, or choosing a pair of shots from your collection that you’re uncertain on the best format. I’ll be sure to take a look and give my take on it if you post a link here.

  3. I like the landscape better. More water and colour to lead your eye into the photo.

  4. Both are stunning photos. Having asked the questions and making me really look to see – I think I prefer the portrait composition – the glorious sunset is still visible but I have to work for it a bit more, keeping me in the photo and there is the beautiful moss in the fg but the curve of the land leads me to that sunset.

  5. I think the horizontal photo is the better. I like the negative space the calm river on the right side of the image creates. The vertical shot, although very compelling in it’s own right, loses that feeling of space. Just my opinion.

  6. BEAUTIFUL.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  7. I like both. The sky and reflection of the first on is gorgeous. I also like the the composition of the second one. Only 20 minutes or so from your house ?!!

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