Vertical Woods and the Four Wangs

After a long discussion on the Luminous Landscape site, the group of expert photographers contributing to the forums there convinced me that modern landscape and portrait aspect ratios are best handled as convenient guides.

If you are serious about your subject then your judgement of the most effective treatment for its representative image determines what aspect ratio you should use. A very creative blogger covered the artistic possibilities well on his site.

He constantly amazes me with imaginative and aesthetically pleasing compositions, and seems particularly sensitive to the effects of the horizontal vs. vertical frame. He provides a very nice example (from the post cited above).

by Ming Thein

Recently, I’ve been working with landscapes that need more vertical space than width. These are essentially stacked panoramas. They tend to draw the eye up and down rather than across and around the frame. One of the examples below is highly detailed at full enlargement and won’t fit in a frame any other way. It is a tall and very old tree nestled in a ravine hidden deep in a pasture with at least thee major vertical segments requiring a separate photos to capture each effectively.

When I see this tree live, it reminds me of something out of an old Chinese ink drawing. Maybe from the shan shui (mountain river) tradition like the one below by a 17th century Qing dynasty artist and one of the “four Wangs” of Chinese painting fame.

Mountains, Streams, and Autumn Trees, by Qing Dynasty Chinese artist Wang Hui. 中文: 清 王翬 溪山紅樹

I am reasonably sure I have no idea how to reflect the Qing dynasty sensibilities through digital landscape images, but it sure is interesting trying.

The other image in my set has contrasting textures that remind me of bone and feathers, and the framing comes in two versions. I’ve used them as bookends for the other one. Let me know what you think of vertical compositions.

Gan bei!



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