What Does Aspect Ratio Mean In Photography?

Aspect Ratio is one of the important parameter in photography that determines the quality of a photograph. In this article, we will try to understand what an Aspect Ratio means in photography and how to chose the best Aspect Ratio while taking photographs.

You might be taking your photographs using a dedicated Photographic camera or by using a simple smartphone camera, but what makes a real difference in how these images evolve ultimately depends on the Aspect Ratio of these images. So let us dwell in detail into understanding the concept of aspect ratios in pictures and how you can determine which is the best aspect ratio to use in your pictures, depending on the type of pictures you want to take.

When you look into any photograph, you will notice that it is composed of a two dimensional capture of a moment in time and place. This two dimensional aspect of the subject of the image is then captured and stored in your photograph in two dimension as well. In other words, your photograph has two dimensions associated with it, its width and its height. It is the ratio of this width and height of a photograph that is called its Aspect Ratio.

An image representation describing the Aspect Ratio of a photograph to be the ratio of width to height.
Representation Of Aspect Ratio In Photography

There exists many different aspect ratios used in photography these days such as the 4:3 Aspect Ratio, 3:2 Aspect Ratio or 16:9 Aspect Ratios. In addition to these, photographers sometimes also use aspect ratios such as 5:3, 5:4 and 1:1 as well for medium or large photographs.

When to use 1:1 Aspect Ratio

With the emergence of various social media platforms such as instagram, facebook or twitter, the unusual aspect ratio of 1:1 has become popular these days. With this kind of aspect ratio, users can record video or capture images while holding the smartphone vertically while still be able to view the resulting video or images horizontally without losing any information in the image.

1:1 Aspect Ratio usually used my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc.

When to use 4:3 Aspect Ratio

4:3 Aspect ratios are the most commonly used aspect ratio in TVs and films. However, even devices such as iPad and other tablets use 4:3 aspect ratio displays so images taken with aspect ratio 4:3 will view better on ipads and other tablets when compared to other ratios.

4:3 Aspect Ratio usually used by iPad, TVs

When to use 16:9 Aspect Ratio

The 16:9 Aspect Ratio has become a recent standard usually found in high definition pictures and videos that can be best viewed on a HD screen, TVs and monitors. In a HD image with higher resolution, we can get detailed information in an image even when we zoom into the picture.

16:9 Aspect Ratio usually used in HD TV, HD Monitors & HD Displays

When to use 9:16 Aspect Ratio

Just like 16:9 aspect ratio used in HD images and videos, there emerged its inverted 9:16 Aspect Ratio that was popularized by Snapchat in its “stories” feature. This is an aspect ratio where in user is expected to record videos in portrait mode (using their smartphone vertically instead of horizontally) and viewed in portrait mode (vertically) as well. With the “stories” feature of Snapchat becoming popular, this ratio has been adopted by other social networks such as Facebook and Instagram as well.

9:16 Aspect Ratio used in Snapchat, Instagram stories

With so many new media applications becoming popular on smartphones, the aspect ratios of photography and videos keep on evolving, so this is not an all inclusive list but something that keeps on emerging as the time progresses.

By Amar Nath

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