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I took a landscape photo in portrait orientation. Now, when I rotate the picture into correct orientation, it looks smaller than the original sideways image. I want to maintain its original height and width.

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If you rotate a piece of paper, it's height/width swap positions. You have to decide which one you want to keep, or your are going to distort the image... and scale the image afterwards. When scaling, you may also need to think about where you're viewing the image (relative size of the horizontal/vertical pixels on your monitor). – forsvarir Mar 26 '12 at 5:13
@forsvarir "If you rotate a piece of paper, it's height/width swap positions" It doesn't happen in a photograph. Height and width are simply reduced not swapped. Oh, I haven't noticed the scaling feature. I'll look in then come back. – TheIndependentAquarius Mar 26 '12 at 5:16
What do you mean by "looks small"? If you're viewing the picture on a screen, do you get black borders around it? I'm having trouble visualising what you're experiencing. – Håkon K. Olafsen Mar 26 '12 at 6:03
If you use standard rotation tools, then the picture should keep the original resolution and thus the same size. I am using GIMP and never have such problem. You should check the resolution and maybe DPI or picture size before and after rotating and compare it. – Juhele Mar 26 '12 at 6:15
Anisha - If Drewbenn described you problem exactly then my answer tells you a number of ways to "solve" it, as that is exactly the problem that my answer addresses. None of the options are are ideal, but arguably the best one is to realise that this is an effect that is unavoidable with a minitor of a fixed size, and that taking pictures in landscape mode is necessary if you want to view them fully filling the sceen. The coices are to fit the heightm abd have empty area either side, or to fill the width, nand then crop top and/or bottom. – Russell McMahon Mar 26 '12 at 7:23

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Based on Anisha's verification, The question can be summarised as:

  • If I take a picture in portrait mode and then display it on a landscape mode display so that the image just fills the screen height, there is unused screen space on either size of the image and the image appears to be smaller than it does if viewed "on its side".

    What can I do about this?

A number of "solutions" are provided below.
The main issue is that, for a given screen size, if a picture fits the screen in landscape mode, when it is rotated 90 degrees into portrait mode the long side is now longer than the screen height.
Two choices are available.

  • The image can be "fitted to screen height" - the image must be reduced in height until the long side just fits the screen heeight. There will now be empty spaces on either side of the image


  • The image can be "fitted to screen width. However, as the image is taller than it is wide, if the width just fits the screen then the height of the image is taller than the height of the screen. So, the image must be cropped at top or bottom or both.


4:3 ratio picture
4:3 ratio screen 4:3 ratio print paper.

Any other screen and image ratio can be assumed.
These do not have to be identical but being the same helps this explanation

"Took a landscape photo vertically" is assumed to mean that the camera was held in portrait orientation to take the photo / long axis vertical / 4 tall, 3 wide.

When the photos were presented to you they presumably were in landscape mode, long acis hozizontal, so that the photo was "on its side". The photo could be fitted to fill a 4:3 display (4 wide, 3 high.)

Now the fun begins.
The image is rotated 90 degrees so that the image long side is vertical.
The screen vertical is 3 screen units tall.
The image long side is 4 image units tall but 3 screen units tall. The image fills the screen vertically.
BUT the image width is 3/4 of its height so it will be
3/4 x height =
3/4 x 3 screen units = 9/4 screen units wide = 2.25 screen units wide.
however, the screen is 4 screen units wide, so the image width as a fraction of screen width = 2.25/4 = 56.25% of screen width.

As the image height fits the screen height it's area as a % of screen area is 56.25% of screen area.

You cannot make the image taller without some of it being above screen dimensions.
You can make the image wider but doing so will distort the picture.

The image looks small because it IS small compared to available screen size. It is only 56.25% as large area wise as an image that fits the screen "properly".

Note that if you print this image and display it in portrait mode, as it was taken, then it will be as large as a landscape image printed full size on the same size paper - it is only a screen problem.

There are various things you can do about this depending on how serious you are.

  • Live with it. This alas is the most realistic solution for many people. You cannot break the laws of physics. With the screen you have now you cannot do better.

  • Very important - next time, realise that if on screen viewing, with the image fitting the screen is your primary aim, then taking photos in portrait mode gains you nothing. By taking them in landscape mode they will always fit the screen. The side material may be extraneous but you can then choose to crop it. This involves other decisions about eg resolution for printing, which are outside the scope of this discussion.

  • Get a bigger screen!
    Really. I did. If it matters to you then this is about as good a solution as you can get. I have a 29" 16:9 main monitor. Lovely.

  • Have a screen that can rotate 90 degrees and auto switch from landscape to portrait automatically. I saw "Radius" screens that did this long ago. May still exist. Specialist, liable to be expensive, annoying to use.

  • A good solution if keen enough. Install TWO screens one in portrait and one in landscape and split the video feed and drive both with the same image. DO NOT rotate the image. View portrait mode images on the portrait screen and landscape mode images on the landscape screen. Each fill the screen as well as possible. Obviously you need to be keen to do this.

  • Get a video projector of resolution that suits you and make a screen as large as you want :-).


Anisha confirms that the problem being addressed above is indeed the problem that they want solved.

Anish - If Drewbenn described you problem exactly then my answer tells you a number of ways to "solve" it. None are ideal, but arguably the best one is to realise that this is an effect that is unavoidable with a minitor of a fixed size, and that taking pictures in landscape mode is necessary if you want to view them fully filling the sceen. The coices are to fit the heightm abd have empty area either side, or to fill the width, nand then crop top and/or bottom.

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There is a third choice: after resizing to fit the screen's height, stretch the image horizontally to fill the width. You may not be pleased with the results, but it works (that's what my DVD player does to use the entire widescreen TV canvas when I watch TV shows filmed in 4:3). – drewbenn Mar 26 '12 at 18:17

I just discovered that if you crop the image in photoshop you can include all the areas you want... then save as a jpg transport the picture to your desktop. Then just drag and drop your picture in to your document. This will keep edge image areas that were annoyingly cropped out before. Hope that helps.

Pauline Neal

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Some pictures like this (taken with a medium format camera):

enter image description here


have a square form factor, and will by definition have the same scale if rotated. What you can do is to crop your picture to a square (of course you will lose parts of the image) or even to a landscape format. But for portrait pictures the first option may be more appropriate (or maybe less inappropriate).

But since your screen is wider than tall, landscape format will always appear bigger.

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This isn't an answer, just an attempt to clarify the question, and I need the space that an "answer" provides. Is this what you're seeing? If not, you may need to share the exact list of steps that you're taking (run program X. Go to File menu, select Open, browse to the image I want, select OK. Go to Edit menu, select Rotate.....) to get a useful answer.

Here I'm looking at my image "normally" in my image viewer. The image viewer is displaying a 3:2 aspect ratio image in a window set up for a landscape image; you can see that the picture takes up the full height of the viewing area but not the full width, although it almost fills the width of the canvas. In the status bar, you can see that the image is scaled to 23% of its original size (if I was viewing it at full size, that number would be 100%).

enter image description here

Okay, now I went to Image | Rotate Clockwise, and the image has been rotated. My image viewer program hasn't resized itself, and is now trying to fit the image, with a 2:3 aspect ratio, inside the same landscape canvas. The image still takes up the full height in the canvas, but only a small fraction of the width. If you look at the status bar, you see that the image is now scaled to only 15% of its original size:

enter image description here

The image resolution hasn't changed (just been reversed from 3504x2336 to 2336x3504, as you can see in the status bar in each screenshot). The only thing that has changed is the amount of room that the image viewer has available to fit the picture onto the screen, so the image viewer has rescaled the image to fit in the provided canvas.

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Exactly, this is what I am seeing. And I have to keep the picture rotated that way, but it looks too small. So, how to keep the original height and width preserved after rotation? Please add your answer here itself. – TheIndependentAquarius Mar 26 '12 at 6:55
So, even when I put this image as a desktop wallpaper, it looks small as you have shown. – TheIndependentAquarius Mar 26 '12 at 6:55
the image stays the same size, it just resizes the visible image to fit the whole image on your screen because you have more width than height to your screen – fluf Mar 26 '12 at 6:57
@AnishaKaul perform this experiment: cut a piece of paper that is 10 inches (25cm) long and 1 inch (2.5cm) wide. Hold it in front of your screen, horizontally. The whole thing fits, right? Now rotate it 90 degrees and hold it in front of your screen. It doesn't fit anymore, right? That's what's happening here. You need to either scale the image down (shrink the entire thing, proportionally) or cut parts of it out. Or, if you are going for a certain look, frame the picture that way in the viewfinder before you take the picture. See also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/20805 – drewbenn Mar 26 '12 at 7:04
You can also edit it so it becomes a complete answer — better than deleting since it is obviously helpful. – mattdm Mar 26 '12 at 11:15

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