Aspect Ratio (symbols)

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Julie H, Jul 1, 2017.

  1. Phil, I'm not commenting on anyone's choice of a particular symbol; rather I'm interested in what a particular symbol means or does.

    If Atget or you choose one over another, that's fine by me. What I'm interested in is that had Atget or you chosen something different, his pictures would have been different because aspect ratio is a difference that makes a difference. A work of art is a unified whole. Its 'shape' is a critical, defining ingredient of that unified whole. Why? What is aspect ratio doing? What's the difference?
  2. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    here's a question for the Atget fans here. if all of Atget's photos were miraculously transformed from one AR to another would it make a difference to his reputation?
  3. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    Thanks Phil, I was hoping you'd say something like that.

    for some reason my default font has changed :-(

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017

  4. Yes! Pretty much Yes!! to that whole post.

    You can express pretty much the same thing in a haiku as in a sonnet, but not with the same content. The shape of a thing is integral to the work; changing one aspect (literally or figuratively) means changing everything else. It's not something you can ignore.
  5. I do find certain aspect ratios more cinematic, a quality I distinctly notice in certain photos and often appreciate. Yes, I think a photo can have cinematic qualities in any aspect ratio, but I do think some formats enhance that sense. And . . . a photo doesn't have to have that cinematic quality for me to like it . . . of course.

    I think cinematic quality also has to do with composition and quite often with content/narrative, and the format can work with those things or, sometimes, work against them and, especially, the composition and narrative can work off the format.
  6. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    maybe not ignore but aspect ratio, according to the good folk at the washington national gallery of art, isn't something to fuss over*.

    they describe Atget as working with a 16x24cm camera which they say is roughly 8x10in which is pretty revealing as they are saying think of 3:2 as roughly 5:4. which, imho, tgif, gstq, ymmv, is fairly dismissive of aspect ratios.

    which begs the question when can 2 aspect ratios be considered roughly equal and is that relationship artist invariant? id est, how good does a photo/artist have to be for a change in AR to be negligible?

    * Atget: The Art of Documentary Photography
  7. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    Fred, by cinematic do you mean widescreen or something else, like mood?

    BTW, according to wikipedia the AR commonly used in the US cinemas (1.85:1) is different to the one used in Europe (1.66:1) which again suggests AR isn't that important at least to movie directors, viewers etc*.

    * Aspect ratio (image) - Wikipedia
  8. I'd say I mean something along the lines of visual mood. A sense that things are moving, larger than life, enveloping. Much as I love square format photos in a lot of cases, I tend not often to find them cinematic. Of course, most 2:3 photos don't seem cinematic either, which suggests to me that AR may play a kind of baseline role but content, composition and other things are driving it for me.
  9. Dangerous:




    Neither dangerous nor speedy (something else):

  10. Last picture with the thing closer to the positioning of the others. To "dangerous":


    and to "speedy":

  11. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    composition certainly changes things. if the thingy was at the back (lhs) of the first "speedy" photo it would be "slow coach" and similarly positioned in the second "speedy" photo would suggest "leisurely stroll", non?
  12. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Your example is not effective in my view, sorry.
  13. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    but, of course, extreme examples are rarely worthy of note. i am more interested in subtle changes in aspect ratio. do top photographers maintain the same ratio when printing ?
  14. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    this is all good stuff Phil. thanks very much
    Phil S likes this.
  15. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    Phil, could you remind us what ratio YM shoots with and what he prints with? thanks
  16. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

  17. Well, I have always been acutely aware of aspect ratio since starting out with film, which imposes different aspect ratios depending on format. I've always thought 35mm was a bit too "long" because it didn't fit into the 8x10 ratio. 4x5 (8x10,16x20, etc.)was always very comfortable for me. And 21/4 x 2/14 is really fun to work with, both with people and landscapes. The challenge has always been to compose within the limits imposed by the frame. Yes, you can crop later of course, but during the shooting, you are looking at the camera's aspect ratio while you are composing. That said, I tend to compose the visual elements within the frame in terms of "balance." I sometimes go for a bit of "visual tension" between the elements in the frame, instead of achieving a perfect balance. Here's an example: 16x20 clouds over santa barbara.jpg
    Julie H likes this.
  18. working with 35mm downtown mpls 60s.jpg
  19. Fun with square format 16x16 water tower.jpg
  20. Thanks very much, Steve. Those are excellent, and very helpful.

    Many photographers are very ambivalent about using anything other than the camera's given aspect ratio. Why?

    It's as if they take it to be "against the rules" to change the boundaries of the game, or the shape of the thing — that's cheating!

    In Fred Picker's book, The Fine Print, in one of his examples, he crops a small part from a larger take (that he shows) but only with an apology where he says that he thinks cropping is evidence of "sloppy seeing." Why isn't it just as much "sloppy seeing" to take the given proportions without a thought? (And several of his other examples look suspiciously not quite the same as the proportions out of camera ... )

    But then, without noticing the contradiction, at the end of the book, he gives an out-of-camera picture [see it here] and writes this:

    ... here is a worthwhile exercise that can be performed with prints ...

    The object is to find as many small complete images as possible. Cut out the ones you see with scissors. This will not only help you see the values and forms in each image, but more importantly, it will train your eye to search out and spatially relate tiny areas — an ability that will enrich future photographs.

    As the accompanying example indicates [see here], the mini-prints can be of any size or shape. This game has no rules other than the limits of your imagination.​

    Why or why are there "no rules" only in this game? Why should there be "limits to your imagination" anywhere except here?

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