It goes like… this?

butterflies on flower cluster
I doubt there are a lot of photographers that run into this kind of thing, but on occasion, I’ll be editing photos and find myself unsure of how the image should be oriented. You see, I might take photos at any angle – lying on my back aiming up at the underside of leaves, or leaning over sideways from a small patch of secure footing to get the right perspective on a reptile or insect – and at times it’s not obvious if I intended a horizontal or vertical format for the image. It’s an issue that I don’t imagine many portrait photographers run into.

I don’t have the auto-orientation options activated on my cameras and thumbnail viewing program, and I’m not sure it would help – how accurate is it for a camera aimed roughly skyward from ground level? (The program I use for viewing and sorting, by the way, is FastStone Image Viewer, which is truly excellent and highly recommended.) The backgrounds are often no help at all. Our impression is that flowers grow up and butterflies land on top, but we all know those ideas are not dependable. And some of the photos work fine either way. I’ll be tooling along, reviewing frames, and stop to wonder if I should be rotating these or not. They look okay…

butterflies on flower cluster… but then I rotate them and say to myself, You know, I think they go this way. I mean, if you want the most accurate rendition for these images, the first thing you’d have to do is lay your monitor back almost flat, since I was probably aiming largely downward from above, but that’s the best I can tell you. And if I’m having this much trouble knowing, then it likely doesn’t make any difference – pick the orientation that you like best and boom, you got the right one as far as I’m concerned.

One of these days I’ll have to have someone shoot a few frames of me while I’m tackling some of the more inconvenient subjects, just to show the goofy shit I do sometimes. About the most awkward one that I recall immediately was shooting with the camera completely upside-down, hanging from the inverted center-column under the tripod, but on more than a couple of occasions, I’ve realized that the muscles in my neck or lower back were really protesting, indicating that my position was far from normal. If I get what I was after, then I’m good, but, yeah, when the shoulder-bag is in imminent danger of swinging from its position on the back of my hip down to crash into my subject, or even into the water, that’s not exactly a pose you’d find in clothing catalogs, is it?

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