Does the Square Aspect Ratio Carry More Baggage?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Norman 202, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. Vain and manipulative defines a lot of art!

    One of my mentors talked a lot about eye movement and how important it is to composition and how a photo will read. So, I've often thought about and composed and post-processed with eye movement in mind. Nothing wrong with a photographer being a bit of a stage director. After all, when we decide on depth of focus we're determining eye movement to a certain extent. When we cut something off at the edge of the frame, we're "manipulating" eye movement.

    It's why, for me, using the term "still" to describe a photo is misleading. We talk about "stilling" a moment. But many good photos tell a story and the stilling of the moment is in support of the story being told. That story plays out in time, as the viewer is looking. The viewer looks here and there and around the photo. Pointing the viewer to do that in a certain way can be very integral to what the photographer is expressing.

    Warhol and Duchamp were about as manipulative as they come, and I doubt either would shy away from it. Impressionists? Incredible manipulators. The Pictorialists? Of course. Vain? Dali, anyone?
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  2. I thought what I proposed as viewer manipulation as the idea being conveyed and whether composition would make that register to the viewer.

    So I thought of ways to place a woman in a frame as if she's a "Where's Waldo" character by placing her in a huge pile of garbage. But then that might be taken as a political statement on how society treats women instead of the intended idea of... "See How A Woman Draws Attention No Matter How She's Presented?" as conceptual portraiture.

    I remember seeing something similarly done in the '70's for an Esquire magazine cover (maybe by George Lois) but it was intended to make a political statement on an unrelated subject.
  3. square, rectangle, circular they all have their own baggage
  4. Way, way back, my first camera was a 44x44mm, TLR. At 11, I knew no better and thought nothing of it. When I moved to 35mm film, I thought little of it, really only concerned that a framed print could be produced from the negative. Oh, I do remember how I loved the way that 44x44mm slides filled the screen, when viewing slides.

    Now, in the digital age, I crop 1:1, 2:1, 3:4,5:4, 5:2 etc., as the subject dictates. Mostly these are viewed digitally. When I print, I tend to print large and have a custom frame.
  5. I just carry a TLR and a 35mm with me when possible so I don't have to crop as often.
  6. "I just carry a TLR and a 35mm with me when possible so I don't have to crop as often." Mike

    Sort of have a feeling of guilt when I crop....a feeling of being unworthy..
    Ed_Ingold likes this.
  7. "Composition either works or it doesn't. Trying to predict where an individual's eye might go seems vain and as you say manipulative."

    I agree comp works or not but disagree with the assumption that because leading the viewers eye is manipulative its somehow negative. Where does that come from? Think about the implications of that statement. Is a great book any less because the author "manipulated" the reader? Manipulation in the frame is totally part of the picture (pun intended). If you give any thought to composing your photo in the frame, you are manipulating the frame. So maybe we should just stick with Composition works or it doesn't.
  8. As an aside, in the heyday of TLRs, the photo magazines like Modern and Popular Photography very regularly had articles on improving composition by cropping 6x6 images, so there was some realization that "square" was not for everything.

    In fine arts, there is much discussion of the golden ratio and many artists have approximated that "golden mean" in their works (LINK)
  9. That was also the reason my teachers made us previsualize vertical and horizontal crops whenever we used a 6x6. The idea being that if you're a commercial photographer shooting for a magazine and using 6x6 you had to shoot with a vertical or horizontal layout in mind.

    I seldom crop my personal work beyond trimming a hair or so near the edges now and then and when I settled on one aspect ratio for images that were shot on different aspect ratios (35mm, medium format, digital) I preferred forcing the original compositions/crop into the aspect ratio (with some distortions) rather than cropping to the aspect ratio.

    For my commercial interior work, I often shoot at 10mm-15mm and then crop the left and right side to get rid of most of the wide angle distortions. It's also faster in terms of fine-tuning the composition compared to doing it on location.

    In Lightroom pressing the O key when using the crop tool will toggle between different crop grids, including the golden ratio.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  10. I love the square. But I do wish Hasselblad had made more 12V backs that gave a vertical 645 image. The very few I've seen for sale have been very expensive, and unlike the A16 horizontal backs that 12V doesn't add frames.

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