Photography Tips: Rotate For Variety

Posted on 13 Feb, 2015 by Scott Jones
Valentino Rossi Yamaha CotA 2014

Please click on the above image to view it larger.

Though I’m not a fan of the mega-pixel wars camera manufacturers use to entice customers, I do admit that there are times when extra real estate in an image can come in handy.

One of those time is when you wish to add some drama to an image by rotating it.

We are quite sensitive to an image being slightly crooked, so if clear horizontal lines are apparent in your image, too slight a rotation will look off rather than interesting. Rotating an image past that point of it looking unintentionally non-straight may return a pleasing result.

As with any subjective edit to an image, rotating a photo to an noticeable degree out of level will appeal to some and not to others. So feel free to experiment yourself to see if you like a given photo better or worse if you add some distinct rotation.

To compare the above example, here is the unrotated version:
Valentino Rossi Yamaha CotA 2014

Sometimes rotating an image introduces elements that aren’t present in the straight version. For example, in this slow shutter speed panning shot I’m using the various and distinctive colors to create a background that is uniquely from Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

In the straight version, I have more red, white and blue color along the bottom, and the top of the image is entirely covered by the silver of the blurred Armco.

But when I rotate the image so it looks like Rossi is climbing upward rather than simply moving right to left, I’ve now introduced the green/brown of the land behind the Armco.

Thus to rotate or not becomes a subjective choice in which those features compete. Is the extra drama in the rotated image worth losing the pure color palette of the straight version? Since every image can be rotated, this is one of the tools available while editing that can be used or ignored according to what you want the viewer to see when he or she looks at your shot.

If you like the look of photos that contain artificial angles such as this one, you can do so while shooting as well. This is one of those instances where your DSLR’s LCD screen comes in handy.

If the image you have in mind involves rotating the camera, do a couple of test shots and check the results on the LCD screen to make sure you’re rotating the camera in the correct direction and to the desired degree.

You can decide for yourself which version of the same exposure is better. Then experiment with your own images to see if rotating a little or a lot makes something you like more or less than the original.

Photograph: ©2014 by Scott Jones / PHOTO.GP – All Rights Reserved

Camera Info: Camera Info: Nikon D4 with Nikon 500mm f/4.0

[mgallery keyword=”Valentino Rossi”]

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