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Saturday, 10 July 2021


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A nice advantage of the square format is that your are dead in the center of the lens's sweet spot. When they test lenses it is always in a rectangle. Well, those "wings" are where you hear the dreaded "not sharp in the corners".
I would like to see lens tests done in 1:1 to see the difference.

Can't get back to work? If you're a painter, pick up your brush. A photographer, pick up your camera. Just do it.

Like you Mike, I've become fascinated with the square format, but instead of committing myself to it on my full frame cameras, I've been shooting all my iPhone photos square, and I really like it. Since these photos aren't serious, just note-taking really, I don't suffer the angst of regret of having botched a serious photo because I shot it square. Plus it's good practice too.

A 44-yr. old shooting with a Rolleiflex since she started photography at age 22. Last week she did a Zoom presentation via The Photo Society. As she says, she's a story teller. I can't find that the session has been posted.

God ordained the Square and Ernst Wildi was his Prophet.
Michael Kenna is one of his Apostles today.

Hey Mike, I was reading this to Jane. She wants to hear the "full-on gripes-'n'-grievances"

In my several decades of involvement with photography, there have been periods of highs, where the good solid work just seems to come to me, and lows, where despite all my efforts, nothing works. There have been times where I can’t wait to grab my camera and head out the door, and others where just picking that thing up seems a Herculean task.

The solution for me when I’m in the photography wastelands (as Bandbox stated) is to get the camera and start shooting. Work begets work, which can (and will) beget re-engagement, which will beget results. That first step must be the first exposure. After I take the first shot of the day, the second one is a bit easier, the third a tad easier and so on.

But I’ve found that that first breeze in my sails is due to my own efforts.

Mike, you have never shot square? I thought everyone in America had done a Michael Kenna or a Michael Levin at some point in their photographic lives. :-)

Some of us Rolleiflex and Hasselblad photographers have been square (or is that trendy?) for decades. When I use my Fuji digital, I often set it to square.

For the last dozen or so years of my film years, I was finally able to get a Hasselblad 500CM and several lenses. I had experience with this camera when I was working for a commercial studio, I I always wanted to get one myself and move beyond 35mm.

What an experience, I learned several things. First I learned that I was a victim of my training, which is to say that I was, like generations of 35mm shooters, told to overcome the limitations of 35mm film by always filling the frame. That was deeply stored in my brain in a way that I was, and am, almost unable to break away from. So, with the 6x6 camera, I was able to visualize the ultimate use of the photos I was paid to shoot, publication in a businesses sales and PR publications, but when I used the 'blad to shoot things for myself, I shot square and printed mostly full frame. I found that there are as many things that look good square as there are things that need to be rectangular or even panoramic, and if I may be allowed to stick a needle in some current hobby photographers, there is nothing magic in paper sizes, so shooting to fit a piece of 8x10 paper isn't important. Not that I don't like the idea that there are still folks out there that see the value in printing photos, but really , folks, get over your slavish dedication to shooting to a particular paper size.

What else did I learn? One was the magic of knowing how to hold a camera steady without needing stabilization, and another is how to shoot fast action with any format, and get the shot without a motor drive. But those are subjects for another day.

Bill Pearce

My photography improved massively when I stated to do professional performing arts photography. It was because I had a brief and a set of objectives that I had to meet.

I have gone back to taking pictures just for myself , but I like to set up a projects for myself with a clear defined finality. One of the objectives is to make a Blurb book or at least an Ebook at the end. This gives me a brief and a shooting list.

The location research, reading a little about the history behind the subjects seems to generate the interest in the subject of the pictures , which I think is important.

I have also been playing with the square images on my Fujis, using the 16mm gives close to a 35mm-E-ish framing, taking into account the missing area.

Funny thing is old habits die hard. Many times I bring the camera to my eye in the vertical position, only to see that square in the finder. So many decades of shooting rectangles makes me visualize that shape.

Mike, the Pandemic is one thing, losing a Brother is another. There is no ‘ ‘universal prescription’ that makes either one go away. How we handle these things is mostly a personal thing but if there are any general rules that help they tend to begin with specificity and ‘doing’ like Mr. Bradbury ‘s and those of the 12 step programs. By pushing us to do specific things it takes our mind off our troubles ( at least for short amounts of time). That time heals us. It also pushes us to do stuff we might enjoy- which is also an antidote.
Grief seeks to wrap enjoyment in guilt - we can’t let it
As I am sure you know , any creative endeavor - like making an expressive photograph of which we are proud is curative in a small way- it’s good for us.

Saying it and doing it are different. In my experience it is the doing that always seems to help

The B&W Square Format is my signature style.

I purposely set my cameras to this as default settings and Acros on my Fuji X-E3 for film simulation.

One of the reasons I got into M4/3rd's was for the ability to shoot square. I spent a long time professionally with a Hasselblad, and still have my original "set" bought in 1984! In addition, I've always had a number of TLR's cycling through my life: Minolta Autocord, Rolleiflex, Yashica 124, Mamiya C220.

I will say this, tho, when Mamiya RB's got really cheap used, I bought one and have done a lot of work with it as well. Something about the 6X7 after years of "square" that seemed kind of "freeing".

Shooting square gives me something I can’t describe… a balance, maybe? Over the years, I’ve found I’ve avoided verticals, mostly shooting some variation of the horizontal.. 9x6, 6x4.5, 3:2, 4:3,.. coming back to the square and finding it just settles the aspect of composition. My early shooting was with a twin lens Yashica and later with the iPhones… maybe it has something to do with looking at the viewfinder as a screen away from the eye and not through a small window?
An interesting idea on using a square sensor in digital cameras was proposed by Andrzeg Wrotniak in his blog at:

Ummm… in case the llink I copied in doesn’t work the article “Time for
Omni-Aspect Sensor?” Is by Andrzej Wrotniak at Wrotniak.net/photo/tech

It’s funny I didn’t respond to the pandemic post even though my photography has been in a funk dating to several months before the pandemic. Whining didn’t seem appropriate given what many others have been thru. It did interfere with my usual cure which has long been just get out and shoot even when it cost real money. But I have gotten out a little more and yesterday actually got some nice shots of the surf we were getting from our very light brush with the hurricane. Nothing for the wall of the Met but maybe something for my wall

Square format is perfect for TOP blog posts being read on iPhone!

When shooting square, most modern cameras capture the entire scene regardless. Assuming one holds the camera horizontally, one "loses" just the sides. The top and bottom are both at the edges. A friend has just started shooting everything square and seems to like it. I prefer to keep my options open. Occasionally I crop to the square, most often not. My 61MP camera does not seem to care about the "loss" of pixels at least at the sizes I print. Where I really like to go to square is with verticals. The 3:2 ratio with a vertical has always seemed too narrow and tall to me. Horizontally, 3:2 is just a variation on a panorama. I still miss my Hasselblad 500CM. It was a "desert island camera."

I read a tweet recently which went '"just get it done" is 95% of the time a terrible toxic thing to be told except for the 5% of the time where you extremely need to hear it.' I think the problem is that it's often difficult if not impossible to tell the difference, both for the person giving the advice and for the intended recipient.

Overcoming demotivation with hard work is something I'm generally quite good at, and I'm sure I've given well-meaning 'just get it done' type advice to others in the past—but I no longer do it. I completed my PhD last year, and the last few months were among the hardest of my life. Sometimes, my usual strategy of powering through just wouldn't work. I'd hit a brick wall, not knowing where to go with an argument or a chapter. Or write a few lines, but feel overwhelmed with anxiety and unable to continue. Or force myself too hard, get some work done, but then the sheer mental effort would take me out for a day or more.

I got through it eventually, but not simply by powering through (though sometimes that helped too). What mostly got me through was the support of friends and family, and also recognising some of the underlying causes and trying to address them—things like loneliness (instead of working at university like I usually did, I was cooping myself up at home thinking this would save time on the commute), lack of fresh air and exercise (see above) and concerns that my thesis would not be good enough (conversations with my supervisor and peers helped allay that).

Sometime back you wrote a post where you said 'Organized people will say, in clipped tones, "just write an outline."' I think 'just get it done' is similar. It worked for me, and I assumed it would work for others. But we're all different, and our life circumstances are different. There's a line in Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: 'How can you expect a man who's warm to understand one who's cold?'

I really like square photos. When I began to focus on photography of people in the streets I decided to go for the square format. Landscape photography is obviously different. I also felt that the restriction might be challenging and improve my photography – and I believe it has. I photograph using the largest format available in the camera and crop to square in post-treatment. This gives me bigger room for cropping, but nevertheless forces me to think square already while framing the shot. Sometimes though I accept that the photo demands another format. Please see my square photography at: https://stralfors.smugmug.com

I fell in love with square format back in the 90's. I found it devilishly difficult to compose in, but also found it strangely freeing. I no longer had to decide if I wanted landscape or portrait orientation, all I had to do was organize the frame within the simple parameters of a very simple frame. The neutrality of the square also appealed to me as I wanted to use it to make images that had more balance and less artifice. Now, and since 2000, all of my personal work has been shot on square format, while the pro work is strictly rectangles. It makes it very easy for me to shift gears in my head, when I see a square my mindset changes over to seeing the world differently, and with no client in mind. It's very refreshing to be able to make that distinction, and it immediately shifts my intention when I look at the world to a more personal perspective.

As far as making work, well as a working pro, I'm always making photographs. The real challenge is to do more personal work. The trick for me is to just put myself in situations where I can't help but make photographs. I don't have to travel to an exotic location as most all of my personal work is done within a few miles of my front door. I'm lucky though that I live in the NYC metro area, and my main subject is people so I have access to a very large population. And for that reason, knowing that my interest is such, I could never move to a more rural area.

A bit part of making photographs for yourself is to allow yourself to spend time doing something that will not seem productive to most rational humans. Give yourself permission to go out and waste some time just looking and seeing how you feel about what you see, and then try to express that in the photographs you take. What makes no sense to most people is the essence of life itself for a photographer or an artist. Make the time, and be relentless about it. Otherwise, it doesn't happen.

I've never shot in a square format - film or digital. But my instagram habit has forced me to edit many images to square and I quite like the crop. I've also become a big fan of the 3x1 crop where in instagram I can spread a pano triptych across the three squares of the row.

Linking in with the last post, instagram was a very beneficial outlet during covid. A great place to be able to share work old and new and feel like you were somehow still out in the world interacting.

These days most photos are viewed on a screen, often in a series, maybe just a few photos in a row, but maybe hundreds.

I find it distracting viewing on a screen a series of photos with constantly changing aspect ratios, especially the constant shift between landscape and portrait modes, even if the aspect ratio remains the same. Shooting square would avoid this, putting the emphasis back on the photo rather than the shifting AR and mode.

But my approach is to always shoot in 4:3 landscape mode, I guess what I'd call a near square format. I find it a balanced AR and landscape mode seems to fit the horizontal world of the screen well.

Square format rules! With it, I can take both horizontal and vertical pictures with my baseball cap pointed in the right direction.


it was a bit of a surprise to see an excerpt from a comment I made recently, quoted above. It seems that quite a few people clicked on the link to the whole comment, then clicked on the link I gave, to have a look at my photos. Thanks for that.


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