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The Visual Toolbox: 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographs by David duChemin

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Lesson 48. Choose Your Aspect Ratio

The aspect ratio of your frame is the proportion of one side (the vertical edge of the frame) to the other (the horizontal edge of the frame). Although the 3:2 aspect ratio of the 35mm frame has become the standard, it’s not because it’s a “better” ratio as much as it is that the 35mm film camera simply became the most affordable and therefore popular. I have cameras on my shelf that create a 1:1 frame, a 3:2 frame, and a 3:4 frame. In my portfolio I have images with 1:1, 3:2, 3:4, 4:5, 16:9, and a few that don’t seem easily measured because I cropped them until they felt right, not according to a conventional ratio. The aspect ratio of our frame is not set in stone, and recognizing this gives us a chance to ...

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