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Archive for July, 2013

For the most part, Schutzhund (IPO) photography is a digital medium; that is, most images are shared via social media sites. But now and again, you’ll get a great shot, with everything just right – exposure correct, dog in focus, no background distractions and the composition spot on – and you’ll want to have it printed. There is one aspect that you will need to consider in choosing the size of print and that is the image’s aspect ratio.

Aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between an image’s width-to-height.  It is expressed as two numbers separated by a colon, with the width expressed first. The most common aspect ratios in still photography include the following:

  • 1:1 – used in medium format cameras; also known as the classic square and is particularly popular in wedding and portrait photography
  • 2:3 – used in higher end DLSRs, including the professional full-frame sensors and the APS-C sensors, to correlate with the classic 35 mm SLR film cameras
  • 3:4 – used in most point-and-shoot cameras
  • 5:4 – used in medium and large format camera
  • 7:5 – used in large format and view cameras
  • 16:9 – used in cameras that can also shoot high definition video, as it is the standard format for HDTV monitors; also very useful for panoramic images

Sometimes, aspect ratios are expressed as a decimal number; for example, a 1:1 aspect ratio is expressed as 1.0, where as a 4:5 aspect ratio is expressed as 1.25. Dividing the long side by the short side of an image derives this decimal number. Some photographers find this a handy way to compare aspect ratios.

As Kat Sloma explains in her Kat-Eye Studio blog post, Exploring With a Camera: Printed Aspect Ratios, “The higher the number is above 1, the more rectangular the shape of the photo; the closer to 1, the more square the shape of the photo.” To make this a little clearer, the following table, adapted from Kat’s post, provides an excellent reference for the most common print sizes in the US, their aspect ratios and the long side/short side decimal number.

Print Sizes (inches)

Aspect Ratio

Long Side / Short Side

Pixels

1 x 1, 6 x 6, 8 x 8, 12 x 12

1:1

1.00

900 x 900 (6 x 6)
4 x 6, 8 x 12, 16 x 24, 20 x 30, 24 x 36

2:3

1.50

600 x 900 (4 x 6)
3 x 4, 6 x 8, 9 x 12, 12 x 16

3:4

1.33

1800 x 2400 (12 x 16)
8 x 10, 16 x 20, 24 x 30

4:5

1.25

1200 x 1500 (8 x 10)
5 x 7, 10 x 14, 20 x 28

5:7

1.40

750 x 1050 (5 x 7)
11 x 14, 22 x 28

11:14

1.27

1275 x 1650 (11 x 14)
16 x 9, 32 x 18, 54 x 36

16:9

1.77

1920 x 1080 (16 x 9)

By comparison, computer, laptop and/or tablet monitors typically have one of the following aspect ratios:

  • 4:3 (1024 x 768)
  • 16:9 (1920 x 1080)
  • 16:10 (1280 x 800)

The images below demonstrate how different aspect ratios affect an image. For images destined for the screen, cropping to a specific aspect ratio is as not critical. It is critical for prints, however. You can see how the image changes depending on the aspect ratio. If the action is too close to the edge, an important element might get cut off or placed in an odd spot. For this image, I really like the 1:1 aspect ratio. I feel I am right there with the dog, rather than just an observer.

Aspect Ratio As Shot 2:3

Aspect Ratio As Shot 2:3

Aspect Ratio 1:1

Aspect Ratio 1:1

Aspect Ration 3:4

Aspect Ration 3:4

Aspect Ratio 4:5

Aspect Ratio 4:5

Aspect Ratio 5:7

Aspect Ratio 5:7

Aspect Ratio 11:14

Aspect Ratio 11:14

Aspect Ration 16:9

Aspect Ration 16:9

Some cameras allow photographers to select the aspect ratio. Because photo-editing programs also have settings for cropping to a particular aspect ratio, changing the aspect ratio in the camera is a personal choice. If I know I am going to print an image to a particular size, then it makes sense. My preference (though I can be convinced otherwise) is to compose the image to make sure there is enough of a border and then crop for the most dramatic effect in Photoshop or Lightroom. If I am taking a portrait or landscape shot – the subject is not moving – then I do set the camera for aspect ratio. But Schutzhund photography is fast action, so in my experience, leaving some leeway for later cropping is definitely more advantageous.

Next up: More about aspect ratios and resolutions for presentation on computer monitors, tablets and prints.

As always, thanks for visiting and Happy Shooting!

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