Friday, October 29, 2010

2nd Look and square photos

Second Look blog. Specializing in square photos. Nice ones too.



I wish somebody would make a digital camera with a square format option which optimized the use of the sensor and lens circle (as opposed to cropping the ends off a rectangular image, which wastes a lot of the sensor and lens).

In the old days Hasselblad published a little book (or several) promoting the aesthetics of the(ir) square format. And it is fun, if for no other reason then because it's rare. It's a more laid-back format in itself, so it's a bigger challenge to get some tension in the composition.

Update:
Last period I painted (acrylics) I used square canvasses. I don't recall the decision process, but it seemed natural.

Come to think of it, a very high percentage of my paintings (as differentiated from drawings), probably most, have been square, on board or canvas. Funny, never really thought of that before, but it goes back even to my first solo exhibition in the early eighties. It feels like if you start from zero as with painting, anything else than square needs a reason.

With drawings I usually used an ordinary 4/3 format, because they needed frames, and reasonably priced frames come in that format.

14 comments:

Steve Weeks said...

Another blogger that would digitally in a square format. http://landscapist.squarespace.com/
Oddly they both reside in New York state, US.
The Landscapist is lately posting some interesting thoughts on seeing. You will need to go back to his older posts to start from the beginning. Years ago he mentioned that he "sees" in a square format, even if his cameras don't.
Some P&S cameras have the option to record in the square, but I can't say the the screen shows that. One other option is to change out the focus screen on the 5D MII with a square one for composing (it used to be available for the 5D MI), but would still require cropping in post.

emptyspaces said...

I have loved the square format since acquiring an old TLR camera a couple years ago. I'd love a digital cam with a square sensor, even a B&W one!

eolake said...

Thanks.

The Panasonic M4/3 cameras can snap in squares, and their screen shows it. Only it crops the long side without expanding the short side, of course.

Alex said...

I remember the relative squareness of 126 cartridge film. Now I have difficulty because I have wall to hang 8x10s, my camera shoots effectively 8x12, and if I print from home it's often to 8.5x11.

None of these frame up nicely on the grid in the viewfinder, and other than 8x10 are hard to find frames and pre-cut mattes for.

I did have a cheap camera that did "panoramic" but that simply did the crop in camera, it did also change the viewfinder, like the old APS or was it disk cameras did.

I agree with the right lens you could project square onto the full sensor, but then for an SLR you'd have to correct back to the viewfinder.

My old Ricoh had the viewscreen that you could switch out. Mine was only the default prism, but there were options. I wonder if any modern cameras offer that.

Maybe a square cutout in your filter holder would help compose.

eolake said...

Yes, I'd work best with an LCD screen or electronic viewfinder.

I remember the 126 format. Weren't they simply square?

Alex said...

You is so right, I always thought they were slightly taller http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/126_film

Maybe the broad edge on the unrelated Polaroid photos I have from that vintage was fooling me.

I miss my 126. I found an old TV ad for the Instamatic when they introduced the 4 flash flash cube, those cameras were $18 in 1968. That sounds quite high.

eolake said...

And they were complete crap!! (At least the ones I saw were. But then the main one I remember was a super-cheap all-plastic one I got as gift when I was like eleven!)

Alex said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instamatic

The 18 dollar one looked different to mine, I see now it was a 404 with selenium light meter. That has to count for something.

Dear Santa...

That had to be an interesting blend, and SLR Instamatic.

I can't find if mine had a plastic or glass lens. The body was definitely aluminum, with a durable plastic housing.

eolake said...

Hell yeah, a built-in light meter was high end in those days.

Dang, that SLR Instamatic is kewl. Even an electronic shutter!

Bruce said...

What you are looking for requires an oversize sensor, with quite a few pixels that will not get used. Panasonic used to make some point and shoot cameras with oversized sensors. I had one that gave me the choice of 4:3, 3:2, or 16:9, all using the full light circle.

Philocalist said...

My favorite camera of all time bar none, is a Mamiya 6 that I've owned since new, with the gamut of lenses.
It shoots immaculate 6x6, was bought as a well deserved 'gift' to myself, and has been my number one go-to 'pleasure' camera ever since ... Sod digital and auto-focus!
Ilford Mono (which I still develop / print myself) or Fuji tranny only ... it's like a big version of the venerable Leica rangefinders, and with enough film through the camera (and years on the clock), it's used in manual 'guesstimate' mode pretty much always ... and I genuinely cannot remember getting an exposure so far wrong that it was a problem.
Just had a quick count along the hallway / up the stairs: 106 framed photographs .... 104 of them square, intentional compositions ... plus a 35mm B&W 'snapshot' of my daughter as a young girl, and a studio shot of a couple of Persian cats ... now a portrait format, originally off a 6x6 trannie!

eolake said...

Good for you, dude.

Me, I never really used 6x6 much. When I was young, I couldn't afford the good cameras in this format, or the enlarger. Though I did buy a neat used one which actually worked quite well. It came with a yellow/green filter on the lens, which was over-scratched, and had kept the lens immaculate! And when folded it was nicely compact. Hmmm, I think it was an Agfa, surely from before 1950. Got it very cheap. Wonder what the heck became of that.

John D. Linn said...

Eolake,

Thanks for adding a link (and photo) from my blog... I saw a noticeable bump in the hits today.

Regarding square photos... it is funny... before I started Second Look I was very much interested in panos and wide format images. When I started the blog the square just seemed to fit and I have become very fond of it. I guess I am tired of the normal aspect ratios!

By the way, Andy Warhol worked extensively in the square format. I read someplace he used square canvases to avoid having to decide if it was to be vertical or horizontal. I guess that goes for photos too!

Of course the trick when shooting for square photos is, you always have to shoot a bit wider than looks good in the viewfinder, or else it will not crop well to square.

John
http://2look.blogspot.com/

eolake said...

Thanks, interesting tip.

Last period I painted (acrylics) I used square canvasses. I don't recall the decision process, but it seemed natural.

Come to think of it, a very high percentage of my paintings (as differentiated from drawings) have been square, on board or canvas. Funny, never really thought of that before. It feels like if you start from zero as with painting, anything else than square needs a reason.