Aspect Ratios in Prints – Digital Photography Tip of the Week

I talked about white balance and how you can use it to achieve proper colours in your images, as well as how you can take advantage of it to produce better photographs. This week I will discuss changing the aspect ratio of your final image.

Aspect ratio refers to relationship between length of the two sides of a photo. Typical consumer digital camera produce either a 4:3 ratio or a 3:2 ratio image (which also produces a 4×6 print). I briefly mentioned this in a previous tip when discussing framing for printing. 4:3 aspect ratio is typically what a computer monitor or a traditional television display while 3:2 is the typical ratio for an SLR or 35 mm film camera. Other typical print ratios are 5:4 (8×10, 16×20 prints) and 7:5 (5×7 and very close to 11×14). But those are not the only ways to print your images.

If you use a wide format for your image you can help create an illusion of length. In the following image of a caterpillar, the short, wide format helps to lengthen the caterpillar while eliminating unnecessary pieces of the photo above and below the caterpillar. It is a good choice for this image which contained no further necessary elements in the image.

Similarly, a tall format will help create an illusion of height or provide an exaggerated view of height as with this image of the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls.

Another format you may want to experiment with is a square format. I have used a square format with this image of a Skipperling, and often use it for portraits. I think square is one of the most pleasing shapes for a portrait, but like so many things in photography, it is purely subjective.

When using these odd formats, you will most likely have to have your print made in a regular print size then trim to fit on your own, or ask your printer to do so for you.

Next week I will summarize my review of Microsoft Digital Imaging Suite.


The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently the vice-president of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography he can address in the newsletter, send it to

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