Why are viewfinders rectangles or squares?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by richard_golonka, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. Eyes are circles. We see a circular feild of view. Lenses and apertures are circles.

    We see a sharp image in the Center which tails off to out of focus at the edges of the circle through our eyeballs

    Shouldn’t we be printing our photos on circular paper and including the zone of defocus at the edges as an accurate reflection of reality?
  2. Circular paper would be a waste of resources. The material is usually made on rolls and cut into sheets. - How are you going to handle / store multiple pictures? Bookbinding circles ain't easy. - Type setting newspaper text around them is maybe an option with DTP (otherwise a true nightmare) but defeating your original intension?

    In the old days things were done as you suggest; while people used square plates the lenses didn't always render the corners and I think I saw oval images printed

    Anyhow thinking about resources and data junk filling an image entirely with sharpness and visible information seems the better approach. Some lenses are still compromising towards your idea. - Try them out and judge the results?
  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Not if we have two working eyes.

    ONE eye sees approximately a circular area, yes.

    But humans have two eyes and thus we have overlapping fields of view; (this is how we have depth perception).

    Our two eyes see roughly an elliptical field of view.

  4. How big is it at arms' length? - I'm just curious about how big we'd have to print, Richard's way, to fill it for not scanning viewing.
  5. If we saw that way, perhaps we would. Then again, a photo might be its own reality instead of or at least in addition to being the reflection of another. What if that reflection is metaphorical?

    Don’t worry, though, at least we’re still not stuck with the inaccuracy and unreality of black and white. Oh ... wait! :)
  6. What is holding you off, put APS-C lens on full frame and you are set, inkjet will print whatever image you send in it.
    Gary Naka likes this.
  7. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Get any circular fisheye and you will get your desired round image. You will still need to print on rectangular paper, and if anything, the majority of images from those kinds of lenses are rather surreal.
  8. The portrayal of scenes in rectangular frames long predates photography.
  9. So true!

    There’s also a history of circular art, dating back to the ancient Greeks, who painted “tondi” in the central parts of vases. So-called tondo art was revived and somewhat popular during the Renaissance, as the following example of Botticelli shows.

  10. Its probably clear to most of us that, the elliptical image that we see in our eyes, and an elliptical image on a flat piece of paper or monitor are two different things. They have different perception and feel. IMO, the image viewed through the eyes has superior depth perception due to true binocular vision, while the image on paper doesn't. So the edges of the eye image and paper image react differently with our minds. Relative to the central part, the edges of a standard sized flat photo get more weightage in our brain, compared to a scene directly viewed through the eyes. The eyes focus more on the central region of the scene, so the edges, whether they are elliptical or rectangular have less of an effect. I also think, the shape of the edges should become less significant if the print is huge (like a wall print) and viewed close. At that point, whether its elliptical or rectangular will bear less effect, just as a scene directly viewed through the eyes.

    Also, here's the thing. When I view a scene through my eyes, it appears more rectangular (may be with rounded corners) than elliptical to me. I think, partly the reason for this is that the field of view is not 100% unobstructed due to the presence of the nose at the bottom, and ridges of the eyebrows at the top. Both of these obstructions somewhat flatten the mid bulge of the ellipse making it more rectangular (thats my thought anyway).
    richard_golonka likes this.
  11. so its not a circle, or a rectangle, or even a regular ellipse. Its something else.

    What is that shape? Look at the wall and draw a line around the edge of your peripheral vision. << make the paper that shape

    Step 2 is to draw a line around the area that is sharp when you are looking at the middle. Draw a line around that area also <<< this is where you put the sharp part of your image. The rest of the image should fall off into defocus at the same rate as our eyes do.

    While we would not be looking at that photo in the same way...say its a 4x6ish shape and its on my desk...obviously it would be all in focus as the entire image is in the middle of my vision. But the image would represent how a person viewed that scene when it was real.

    Now, I am not one for xeroxing nature and saying that is the only way to do photography. Sure by all means change the colors or contrast etc etc to get the right feel. But its just one part of the whole movement in digital photography that seems to be fixated on replicating reality and detail detail and natural colors perfectly that everyone forgets about....we never see anything with sharp edges, nor is anything actually rectangular.

    If someone sorted all that out and printed the photos, it would be interesting to see what they looked like. I can envision an exhibit where literally everything in the room is black and all you can see is this eye-vision shaped print on the wall accurately representing both the peripheral vision shape as well as appropriate center sharpness areas and rate of defocus fall off to the edges considering you are looking at your subject in the center. Then put an x on the floor in the spot where looking at the photo would encompass 100% of your vision and look at the middle. This would be the same as putting an fully sharp photo on the wall I know, as if we were looking at he center of a fully sharp photo the outer edge sharpness would also be out of focus when looking at it. But it would be kind of neat to see...you could look around the photo, and focus directly on things you actually cant as a human....the out of focus parts of what you see. You would be prevented from looking at the scene in any other way than how it exactly was perceived by a human in that moment.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
  12. This idea of an ellipse shaped field of view seems to me to ignore the way the eye and brain actually work together. Our eyes don't stay in a fixed position when viewing a scene or a picture. They constantly scan around, focus on different areas and distances, and we even turn our heads to take it all in. The brain somehow combines all these fleeting impressions to form what we think we can see - a scene which only exists in our minds. In trying to reproduce this process with photography or painting, we are actually trying to achieve the impossible.
    richard_golonka likes this.
  13. Just put it down to logistics.
    Rectangular paper/film is just easier to handle/manage.
    Can you imagine the difficulty in printing and reading a book, magazine or newspaper that was printed on circular/elliptical paper.
    denny_rane and Vincent Peri like this.
  14. Not sure, I totally agree with that. The image perhaps represents the view the photographer saw in the viewfinder. We all know, how attempting to photograph a scene as seen with our naked eyes leads to frequent frustration. Adjustments (and/or compromises) have to be made to create a 2D image out of a 3D view.

    Not a bad idea. I would be interested in viewing certain street scenes (like the ones that 'freeze the moment') in that way and see how it changes my perception of a familiar photo. Would it seem more 3 dimensional? and perhaps I will perceive motion in some of the subjects where there isn't.
    richard_golonka likes this.
  15. haha, this is true. But keep in mind this is the philosophy form... ;)
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  16. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Since I wear spectacles, every image is contained within a rectangular frame ! But you could always create a vignette in PP prior to printing.

    I believe also that early television screens were circular (WBMT!)
  17. Cold and sunny day-3.jpg
    Gary Naka likes this.
  18. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    I was thinking more along these lines :
    07-110_1310 - TONY0297 - Platforms 001 - vignette 001.jpg

    07-110_1310 - TONY0297 - Platforms 001 - vignette 002.jpg
    Gary Naka likes this.
  19. I have an Estes Camroc, which takes a picture on a 1.6 inch film disk.

    While not required, rockets tend to be round, and so also Camroc.

    I bought mine when I was about 13, and still have it. And recently got
    it out again, and hope to test it out again.

    When I was young, I but disks out of a roll of TX120, but don't have
    those anymore. I now have a roll of Delta 3200 that I plan to make
    disks from.

    I haven't thought about art museums so recently, but don't some painters
    paint elliptical images, though in a rectangular frame?

    Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror by Parmigianino | Paintings Reproductions | Most-Famous-Paintings.com
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019

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