Vertical and Horizontal Frames


It’s true that I do make the majority of my pictures in “landscape” format, but I’m certainly not averse to using “portrait, indeed many of my favourite images are in just that frame, so I didn’t need convincing of its value! That said it was a very interesting exercise to accept the discipline of framing every image in a sequence in both formats.

Sowerby Bridge is the mill town in Calderdale in West Yorkshire where I was born and spent my earliest years, so if nothing else, nostalgia took me in that direction. As a somewhat generic Pennine mill town however, it does have a collection of points of interest – m;ill buildings now finding other uses, rows of “back-to-back” housing, the Rochdale Canal (now used for pleasure rather than industry) and the River Calder prominent among them.

Tall structures; long stretches of canal; narrow, rising streets; all fit well in portrait – while their context is often made clearer in a landscape version. The first image on the second contact sheet has a foreground of stone sets whose shape almost exactly matches the ratios of portrait and thus works much more effectively in that format. In contrast, the third image on the second sheet of a gently rising, cobbled alleyway has the sets running from side to side. Here landscape offers a more open and welcoming prospect, as opposed to the darker and slightly more sinister portrait version with its overhanging vegetation.

My overall sense reviewing the exercise is that indeed both formats (and personally I would add in the square format as a third option) have things to offer and have the potential to offer differing perspectives on the same subject, both literally and emotionally.

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