Dutch angle and Dutch tulips

I love the odd Dutch Angle in my photos. It’s a different way of framing pictures and brings a bit of change compared to trivial portrait or landscape pictures. Often, one wants to take a picture and wonders: should this be a portrait or landscape picture. That doesn’t make for many options but rest assured there are alternatives. Enters the canted angle.

Dutch angles and Dutch Tulips
Dutch angles and Dutch tulips

Dutch angle and Dutch tulips

Above is a version of a Dutch tilt, a very apt one with tulips in the foreground. Nothing to do with the Netherlands, though, the shot was taken in Versailles. In the background is the seventeenth century Saint Louis Cathedral. (note: the photo wasn’t touched up at all; colours, framing and light balance are entirely natural).

Dutch angle
The third man by Carol Reed – ‘The Third Man (1949) – This shot shows a canted angle or “Dutch Tilt” to reinforce the character’s feeling of confusion and chaos.’ – Source

A Dutch angle, Dutch Tilt or even canted angle, is a shot in which the camera is tilted to one side so that vertical lines are at an angle with the frame. It may sound trivial, but this is what owed its Oscar to The Third Man, Carol Reed’s masterpiece (see above).

Dutch Angle
Stairs above the river in Champigny. Without a canted angle would not have been possible.

To reconstruct the above image, you would have to tilt your head to the other side (right) for the stairs in Champigny are almost vertical. In this case, I wouldn’t have been able to fit the stairs in the picture without this technique.

Dutch Angle in Brussels
Brussels and its famous gallery – Since 1830 anything Dutch, be it a ‘tilt’, is a bit of a provocation in Belgium.

‘The Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries were designed by the young architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar, who determined to sweep away a warren of ill-lit alleyways between the Rue du Marché aux Herbes/Grasmarkt and the Rue Montagne aux Herbes Potagères/Warmoesberg and replace a sordid space where the bourgeoisie scarcely ventured into with a covered shopping arcade more than 200 m (660 ft) in length. ’ Source.

Dutch angle, Dutch Angling
Dutch tilt or Dutch Angling? That is the question.

Angling in the river Seine equates, in my mind, to suicide. Unless those people only do this for fun and to hurt poor helpless animals. How cruel Man can be! You’ll notice the tilt aimed at capturing the stairs in the bottom right-hand corner of the picture.

Slanted Dutch tulips, but not quite a canted angle
While we’re at it, here’s a bunch of (Dutch) flowers.
Versailles – potager du Roi – 2013
Yann Gourvennec
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  1. Very interesting 🤔 I don’t think I’ve ever consciously considered this before, but then most of my photography is a bit unconsciously done . Using an angle to fit things in is natural, but mostly from my documentarian side. Now I’ll have to pay attention and see what happens! Thanks Yann

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