Statistics can be fascinating things. They can also prompt some questions that are worth pondering, at least for a minute or two. In my post yesterday, I used two images made in the last few days as I'm here in Bishop, California — both of which happened to be vertical compositions. For some reason, that struck me odd because I don't often make a vertical orientation landscape image. In fact, popping over to my Lightroom database, I see that I make horizontal compositions about 3 times more often than vertical ones — hence, 3:1.
Why? Do I naturally see in horizontal compositions? Or is it more insidious — that my camera's natural construction is oriented toward landscape orientation images? It's worth thinking about because it cannot be good to be so controlled by the manufacture of the machine. If my camera's natural orientation were vertical (has there ever been such a camera?), would I still make horizontal images 3 times more frequently than vertical ones? Statistically, one would expect something closer to 50/50 in the distribution, so some factor is at play that skews the stats. Horizons, the biology of human eyes, bald skies? Hmmm . . .
As a publisher, I'm perhaps even more interested in this than I would otherwise be. Books (and magazines) are more often vertical than horizontal by a wide statistical margin. This has always been a complication for landscape photographers. However, in the age of computer/iPad/digital presentations where horizontal screens are universal, perhaps we photographers have a blessing for which we should be grateful. As more and more images are seen in these new media, the natural shape of the viewing medium will more closely match the images we tend to make — at least if my statistics are like yours. I'm curious, so let's do a little comparison exercise. Post a comment with your stats from your Lightroom catalog (rough ratio, that is) and let's see.*
* If you are not familiar how to get this information, follow these steps: In the Library Module, look at the Folders panel at the left. Click on the highest level folder so you are looking at your entire catalog. In Grid View, click on the Metadata panel at the top. In the first Library Filter column at the left, twirl down the menu and select Aspect Ratio near the bottom of the list. You should then see a count of the total number of horizontal, vertical, square, and "other" images in your catalog.