Camera Format in Landscape Photography
Most cameras have a natural axis. For
example, when you lift a DSLR or 35mm camera to your eye, it feels
right to hold it horizontally, so that the horizon runs parallel to the
long side of the frame. Turning the camera through 90 degree feels
unnatural - it requires an extra effort, and most photographers turn
the camera only when faced with landscape subjects that have a
pronounced top-to-bottom emphasis - such as tall trees.
The dominance of horizontal landscape
pictures is further strengthened by photographic jargon. By convention,
we call all horizontal pictures "landscape format" and vertical
pictures "portrait format". But you will find it best, rather than
letting the camera or convention decide whether the pictures should be
upright or horizontal, to evaluate every subject on its own merits, and
then decide for yourself.
The subject matter isn't the only factor
that should affect your decision. You should also think about the dynamics
of the image, and about the foreground and sky. A horizontal format
appears peaceful and stable, and implies tranquility. By comparison, a
vertical picture appears more active and unstable. Vertical pictures
also include more of the subject above and below the horizon, so
turning the camera vertically is a useful way of emphasizing the sky,
or subjects of interest on the ground close to the camera.