Image Format/ Aspect Ratio

Ivan Zoric European Postcard Format

European Postcard size Din A6 10.5 x 14.8 cm

Different social media require different format images or better different aspect ratios of an image. Facebook as an example uses a aspect ratio of 851 x 315 pixel for it’s timeline image. For the regular posts you can use a more traditional format.

With Instagram you used to have to use the 1: 1 ratio, so even side lengths. This has changed recently. You can now use other formats as well.

In the past, many different film/ slide film formats existed.

35mm standard film for SLR’s, offering 24x36mm offering a 2: 3 aspect.

120 medium format contains a range of frame sizes; 6x4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm, 6x8cm, and 6x9cm. The most common being the 6x6cm. So as you can see various aspect ratios there.

Or even larger: 4” x 5" large format is sheet film. You would think this format would be 4x5 inches in size, but it's not. The sheet size is usually about 100mm x 125mm and the frame size is roughly 95mm x 120mm.

Traveling Girl Jericoacoara

1:1 Traditional Instagram Format at 1080 pix...

Modern digital cameras: APSC and full frame digital SLR’s, more recently Mirrorless cameras, but also digital Medium format cameras offer a variety of sizes and aspect ratios. in some cases they follow closely the traditional film formats. I may as well mention here the panorama option/ feature that stitches various files in camera to a…Panorama.
There is also the option to take individual images and stitch them together in Photoshop or nowadays also in Lightroom to create a wide panorama. These formats often exceed the HD format of 16: 9…

The options at our disposal to create images in different formats are greater than ever. In the digital darkroom we can adjust image parameters, such as saturation, contrast, convert images to B&W and last but not least also change the image format with a mouse click to a different one.

This is a long entry into a subject that has become more and more apparent to me in recent times: The importance of the image format aspect ratio.
Social media sites with their image requirements played an important role in creating this awareness in me as a photographer. On my personal site I also get conditioned by software that allows you to use one format across an image gallery for proper display. Even blog post images have to be within certain requirements/ specs.

Plant leaf with rain drops

Facebook Timeline Image 851 x 315 pi

The format or aspect ratio can be an important feature to convey a certain message with an image, or create a distinct mood. A vertical portrait orientation closeup of a person has a dramatically different feel to a wide landscape created as a panorama. Somewhere in the middle resides the image with the 1:1 aspect ratio.

I now visualize more often what an image may look like in one or the other format before,or as I am taking it, leaving extra space that can latter be extracted.


Manuel Selman Pro Surfer

Facebook Timeline Format 851x 446 instead of 315 pix

10 years ago this was a luxury reserved to medium format, due to the limited pixel count of the digital SLR’s. With the ever expanding pixel count it has certainly become a feature that is used nowadays more, not feeling too guilty of the resolution you are essentially dumping. So the crop tool as a tuning options in Lightroom is not just there anymore to straighten horizons. Use it creatively and play with different crop options, use them as a tool, expanding your photographic vision.

Publications need double page spreads as well as portrait orientation single page layouts, maybe even with a text sidebar. Keep this in mind as your creating pictures. Some photo books can be created in extra wide layouts. A stitched Photoshop panorama, printed large, with it’s extra width can be quite impressive gracing an office wall or living room.

Tanja Warjonen on Paradise Island

Standard digital camera file format 3:2

At times this requires that I take a step back, as I look through the viewfinder, or zoom out a bit more,leaving room for the future crop. Or you simply start to shoot individual frames for a future panorama. Medium focal lengths used in manual mode, so the light levels and aperture stay constant offer the best results. As you see picture format becomes part of the creation process…





Sand dune by Jericoacoara Brazil

digital camera file standard format 3:2

identical image cropped in post to 5:4

Sand dune by Jericoacoara Brazil

Although both files are exactly the same width (342 Pix), the later appears to be wider.