Late last week, Instagram finally added a long-needed feature: wide photos. And I, for one, am thrilled to be able to post images like this:

Provo Canyon

A post shared by Jim Dalrymple II (@jimdalrympleii) on

For better or worse, Instagram is the most-used, dedicated photo sharing social network. (I think there are a number of at-least-as-good ways to document travel, but I digress.) The app lacks a lot of obvious features — links, music overlay for video, etc. — but perhaps most annoying of all was that it cropped every image into a square. (There were solutions to this problem before, but none of them looked great.)

There’s nothing inherently wrong with squares of course, but for landscape and architectural shots there are times when wider is better. And that’s not to mention the fact that most cameras natively take wide photos, and that we’ve been conditioned to appreciate wide-screen with a lifetime of movies and TV.

Exploring the stairways of Echo Park

A post shared by Jim Dalrymple II (@jimdalrympleii) on

If this doesn’t seem like a big deal, consider the photo I recently took at an outdoor art installation in Los Angeles. I posted the photo to Instagram just days before the new wide option was rolled out.

Here’s the Instagram version:

The Spheres at MacArthur Park

A post shared by Jim Dalrymple II (@jimdalrympleii) on

Pretty cool, right?

But here’s the original, wide image:


Note how the square, Instagram version cuts off all the birds on the right, which are pretty cool too.

The square version has some composition advantages, and I used the the app’s color toning tools (though it isn’t filtered). But ultimately, Instagram’s former default square settings forced me to cut off some interesting action in the image. I didn’t have a choice.

The new wide option changes that. When a photo calls for a square composition, we can make a square. But when it ought to be wide, now it can be. And that’s good news for all of us who enjoy photographing the many places we visit.

UPDATE: In addition to traditional landscape orientation, Instagram also now allows panoramas and portrait orientation.

— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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