Well, that was nice. The previous piece got quite a bit of attention from around the Web (just like the old days, before advertising took over and made people reluctant to link to other sites), and traffic reached a four-month high point. I had to go back to June to find a day with more visitors than yesterday.
And I want to thank everyone for their reactions—I'll be sure in consider peoples' responses and additional information in the final chapter. (The post was about half the chapter. The other half is on aspect ratios, ideal formats, and proportion.)
But back to regular life! And thanks, everyone, for reading.
P.S. They're repaving the road down to the lake opposite my office, so my ability to sit here and work is going to be curtailed...I can't take the noise. I'll probably have to leave the house and go find refuge somewhere. Noise pollution is not the worst thing about modern life, but for me it's right up there. I live in a rural area and still the noise pollution is pretty bad.
P.P.S. Just wondering if more people have a "favorite rectangle" or "favorite aspect ratio"—? My impression is that most photographers adapt pretty easily to whatever they're shooting.
I started off shooting square (a Kodak Instamatic) and have done most of my shooting in my life with 2:3, but I think my favorite was 645. The actual image area of 645 is 56x41.5mm (it varies slightly on different cameras), or 1.35, which is very close to 4:3 (1.333...). But for some reason I don't think of Micro 4/3 as being similar to 645. Maybe I should start thinking of it as mini-645!
Never found a 645 camera I really liked, though. It wasn't for lack of trying. The cameras were either too big and klunky (Bronica ETRSi) or the lenses were too slow (Fuji GS645s).
Ironically, during the only time in my life that I was shooting intensively with a 4x5, I masked the camera (physically, with a thin strip of steel) to give the same proportion as 5x7, which was my favorite rectangle at the time. This was probably because I had fallen in love with a brand new Deardorff 5x7 on display at the old Ferrante-Dege in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It also gave me a nice clear strip on 4x5 negatives to write on and made handling the negatives easier.
Mostly, though, I shot 35mm and printed to the black film edge like H.C.-B. I'm a firm believer in composing to the viewfinder view—the idea that you can "crop later" just leads to confusion, inconsistency, and sloppy seeing. Your mileage may vary. Although, as I've noted before, the only time I shot intensively with a 6x6 camera (an Exakta 66 Mod. 2), I cropped almost everything to a 645 vertical. On that camera, I found some thin adhesive ruled lines at a graphics arts supplier and used them to mark the viewfinder.
Proportion has always been a big deal to me; I like getting things in just the right balance. I used to think this was artistically important, but maybe it was just fastidious.
Hmm, I really should start thinking of Micro 4/3 as "mini 645." It might make me like it more. :-)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
beuler: "I always thought you did not care about aspect ratios since you never mentioned it as a factor when considering Micro 4/3. I am obsessive about aspect ratios, to the point that when cropping, I insist on maintaining the original aspect ratio. In my mind, cropping from to a different aspect ratio is a very radical step to be done on very rare occasions. To me the great advantage of 4:3 over 3:2 is that it looks appealing in portrait as well as landscape mode. I hate 3:2 in portrait mode—or would that be 2:3?"
Rob Campbell: "I loved shooting 6x6 on Haseselblad 500 cameras. I suppose that an early infatuation with LP covers had something to do with it; amazing art on those things. Trouble was, 10x12" papers took a chunk off the sides, but square on that paper format looked good, too. But this has me drifting dangerously off towards dreams of long-lost WSG D papers with magical glaze...."
Bill Mitchell: "My philosophy is that I'm not Cartier-Bresson, and that darned few photographs can't be improved by a little judicious cropping."
Josh Hawkins: "I've found I can adjust to most rectangles pretty well, but I tend to prefer 2:3, but that's what I learned on and have used for most of my life/career. The only format that's really stymied me is squares. Squares drive me up a wall. I just can't make them work. They're too static, stable, there is no natural dynamic for me to work off of. Every few years I try to work with them for a bit, and it always falls apart. I'll try again soon I'm sure."
Patrick Medd: "I've shot (and shoot) most ratios from APS-C to 4x5/8x10 but I think my favourite is the square, that is the one I find myself cropping the least. Hipstamatic and the 6x6 apps on the iPhone demonstrated to me that the square chimed with my way of seeing and I liked it so much I went out and bought a Hasselblad 501cm so I could shoot 6x6 film. I've never been fanatical about printing to the black lines, I've always felt that if a crop improves the picture then I'll crop. Having said that I greatly admire the work of photographers like HCB and James Ravilious who did follow that practice. I certainly have a sloppy way of seeing and perhaps my relaxed attitude to cropping is the cause. Maybe I should do a OCOLOY with the Hasselblad and print to the edge; I'll go away and think about it. :-) "