How to choose the best aspect ratio for landscape photography (2023)

Related course:Simply breathtaking landscapes

When it comes to landscape photography, there are a few different aspect ratios that you can choose from to give your photos the best composition. But which one should you use? And how do you find out what that is? In this article, we examine the different aspect ratios and how to choose the best landscape format for your photography.

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What are aspect ratios?

Aaspect ratiois the ratio of the width to the height of your image. This ratio is expressed as a proportion. Common ratios are 1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 5:4, 16:9, and 2:1. The situation can go either way. 3:2 is the same as 2:3.

A 1:1 aspect ratio means your image has the same height and width. you have a square A 3:2 aspect ratio means that one side of your image is 50% longer than the other. A 3:1 aspect ratio means that one side is three times the length of the other.

(Video) My favourite aspect ratio for landscape photography

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Any aspect ratio can be converted to many sizes. For example, an 8×10 photo has an aspect ratio of 4:5. A photo with this aspect ratio can be printed as 4×5”, 8×10”, or 16×20”. The proportions and shape of the image remain the same.

Aspect ratios are also converted into pixels. Your sensor size determines the number of pixels along each edge. But the proportion of pixels follows your camera's native ratio. For example, my 24 MP camera creates images that are 6000×4000 pixels. This is a 3:2 ratio.

Landscape vs Portrait

The picture can be insidelandscape orientation, where the width is longer than the height. Or portrait format, where the height of your image is greater than the width. Both can work in landscape photography. If there is more vertical interest, consider portrait orientation. If there is more horizontal interest, landscape is the best choice.

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Choosing an aspect ratio in landscape photography

Your camera has a standard aspect ratio. On many cameras, this ratio is 3:2. using aMicro-Four-Thirds-System, your camera records in a 4:3 (“four-thirds”) aspect ratio. This is also the ratio used by iPhones and other mobile cameras.

Your camera uses this ratio by default, but you don't have to keep this image shape. Some cameras can switch from their native aspect ratio. The iPhone, for example, can easily switch between 4:3, 1:1 and 16:9.

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The benefit is that you can quickly see how different aspect ratios change the look of your image. But don't limit your options permanently. Later you can decide to reshape your image.

In the field, it is helpful to be able to visualize what the composition looks like in different ratios. But many photographers use their native aspect ratio in the field. Then change the aspect ratio later in post-processing. However, before shooting, get an idea of ​​what aspect ratio might work best. There's nothing worse than bringing your picture home and finding out you didn't leave enough room to crop it. Many images need cropping, and you want to make sure you've captured enough of the scene to give you flexibility in post-processing.

(Video) Which Panorama Aspect Ratio Should You Use for Landscape Photography?

Cropping in post-processing

In practice, it is helpful to be able to imagine what the composition will look like with different shapes. But many photographers in the field use their camera's native aspect ratio. Then they change the image shape later in post-processing.

But before you take the shot, have an idea of ​​what frame shape might work best. There's nothing worse than finding out later that you didn't leave enough room to crop. You want to capture enough of the scene to allow flexibility in post-processing. Many photo editing programs have built-in presets for aspect ratio cropping.

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Cropping to an aspect ratio lets you adjust where the main elements of your composition fall within the frame. You can zoom in and remove extra space and distractions around the center of interest. You can move the subject left or right, up or down in the frame. You can even flip the image if it looks better.

What aspect ratio is best for landscape photography?

There really is no best aspect ratio for landscape photography. The best ratio depends on where the visual interest lies in your composition. Each of the standard aspect ratios has advantages and disadvantages. Some work better with some scenes than others.

Look for in particularforeground elements. Also, how much the sky contributes to the overall composition. Some image shapes give you too much sky in landscapes. If the sky isn't interesting, including it will dilute the impact of your photo. If the sky doesn't add anything to the picture, use a different aspect ratio and crop it out.

If most of the visual interest is along the horizon from left to right, use a shape that emphasizes the width of your photo. A panoramic aspect ratio such as 16:9 may be best. If there is both vertical and horizontal interest, use a ratio that balances height and width. An aspect ratio such as 4:5 may be best. This can happen when you have a foreground element or when there is an interesting sky in your photo.

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1:1 square aspect ratio

Let's start with the square 1:1 aspect ratio, which is popularInstagram. This image form was also very popular with medium format film cameras. Use this shape when there is a clear center of interest. Even if there is the same visual interest vertically and horizontally. The focus is on a central theme.

(Video) Landscape Photography - Understanding Aspect Ratios

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Rectangular 4:5, 4:3 and 3:2 aspect ratios

Many of the common aspect ratios are rectangular. One side is longer than the other, but they can be almost square. Use one of these ratios when the scene is interesting both vertically and horizontally.

You may have a landscape that stretches beyond the horizon. But you can also have an interesting sky or foreground element. If your image has depth, choose an aspect ratio that has some height and width.

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A zoom lens allows you to compose your scene in-camera using the native aspect ratio. No cropping is required later.

These are common aspect ratios, but images may look a little squished. That, or there's too much unattractive sky.

Panorama aspect ratios 16:8, 2:1 and 3:1

When we call a photo a panoramic image, we're not talking about an aspect ratio. Many relationships fall into the category ofPanorama. What ties them together is a long, thin shape, usually in landscape orientation. A common aspect ratio for panoramas is 16:9. But 2:1 (16:8) is also common. You may have other panorama options like 16:10 or 3:1.

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In landscape photography, panoramas are often in landscape format. But they don't have to be. For example, if you have a vertical line of interest like a photograph of the Milky Way with a foreground element, a vertical panorama might be the right shape for your scene.

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Panoramas are often created by stitching many images together. Some cameras have a panorama setting. You pan across a scene while the camera automatically takes and combines many photos.

(Video) Aspect Ratio is VERY important: 3:2, 4:3, 16:9, 9:19.5?!

Or you can manually capture individual frames across a scene. Then stitch them together using photo editing programs like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.

Non-standard aspect ratios

Each image has a width to height ratio. But the relationship does not have to correspond to one of the usual ratios. There are many common aspect ratios, but you don't have to use them. You can crop an image to any shape to enhance your unique composition. You don't have to cut off anything interesting or include uninteresting aspects of the scene.

It is more difficult to print and frame images with non-standard shapes. However, if you primarily show images online, using a traditional aspect ratio may not matter.

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Print aspect ratios

There is one more thing to consider when choosing the aspect ratio for your landscape photo. The plan to print and frame your landscape photos will also affect the form you choose. Common aspect ratios on cameras do not necessarily correspond to common print or frame sizes.

One of the most common aspect ratios in digital photography is 3:2. You canprint picturesthese are 6×4”, 12×8” and 18×12”. You can print these, but finding mounts and frames for these prints can be more difficult. The 4:5 ratio is much more common in framing. The sizes for this aspect ratio are the widely used 8×10 and 24×30.

Printing square prints is more common hereInstagram world. But panoramas will be more difficult to print and frame. Printing a non-standard image shape will likely require custom mats and frames. This could get expensive. Or consider adding spaces around the image to create a standard shape.

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Choosing the best aspect ratio for your landscape photos depends on the composition. The shape of your picture should enhance the composition and draw your viewer's attention to the frame. You may gravitate towards one aspect ratio. Or you can vary the aspect ratios for different scenes.

(Video) How to use aspect ratios to create better compositions

If you're ready to learn more about landscape photography, check out ourSimply breathtaking landscapeseBook.


What is the best aspect ratio for landscape photography? ›

The 3:2 format is the most common aspect ratio used in landscape photography today and is the mainstay of 35mm digital and film cameras, a few Leica medium format cameras, mirrorless cameras as well as some high-end compact cameras. With this particular aspect ratio, the width is significantly longer than the height.

Is 16:9 good for landscape? ›

16x9. Most displays are in landscape orientation, this is the normal 16:9 aspect ratio of television. This works great for many digital signage applications when showing video, when the displays must be oriented in landscape, or the content otherwise lends itself to a wide aspect ratio.

Should I use 4x3 or 16x9? ›

The best aspect ratio to shoot videos in is 16:9 since most modern displays, such as TVs, tablets, phones, and computer displays have a 16:9 aspect ratio display. This allows you to display your entire video without cropping the sides to fit in the display, as you would have to do with a 4:3 aspect ratio video.

Which aspect ratio is best for photography? ›

3:2 Aspect Ratios

This is typically the most popular set of dimensions for photographers to shoot within. The ratio of 3:2 allows for a good amount of room for cropping in post-processing as well if needed.

What aspect ratio is most realistic? ›

3:2 Aspect Ratio

First of all, this is the closest to the golden ratio, which makes it visually appealing and more balanced. Painters and artists used it long before photography was even invented. It's also the ratio of a 35mm film. Although now the 4:3 aspect ratio is gaining traction, 3:2 is still the standard one.

What are the best settings for landscape photography? ›

Best camera settings for landscape photography.
  • Manual camera mode.
  • Aperture around f/11.
  • Low ISO of 100.
  • White balance be set to “daylight,” “shade,” or “cloudy”
  • Use RAW picture format.


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