Saturday, March 16, 2013

Shooting SQUARE!


I miss shooting square format! In the 70s, most of the colour assignments for the paper I worked for were shot with a Hasselblad 6X6 medium format camera.

Before mega pixel didital, quality of a 6x6negative or transparency is unbeatable, especially if you need to crop your image!

Of course you can crop a 35mm negative in the darkroom, but you will not be able to match the image quality of a medium format negative!

In this respect, the square format of cameras like Hasselblad; Zenza Bronica C and the Mamiya C220 are perfect.  They all used 120 roll films and produced a 6x6 image. In the 70s and 80s, I have use all of them ;)

Simplifying and to eliminate any necessary elements in your images usually lead to better composition.Of course you should be doing this when you compose a photo in the camera, but nowadays you can also do it by cropping during post-processing. By cropping from a 35mm format to a square, you are shaving off a third of the image, leaving the strongest two-thirds!

These two shots were actually taken with a 6X6 Bronica medium format SLR, they were done for the 1980 New Straits Times calendar in Malaysia. I blog about how I did the shoot here.

After 1980 I started using the Mamiya RB-67 for most of my colour jobs, this Mamiya produce a 6X7 cm image and not a square... I lost touch with the SQUARE :(

Composing a square image is different to the rectangular image where you try to create a stronger image by "The-Rule-Of-Thirds".

Put it simply, the rule of thirds says that your picture is most interesting when its subject is composed along imaginary lines that divide the photo into thirds, vertically and horizontally.

The rule-of-thirds can be discarded in square format, depending on what you are photographing, placing the subject in the center of a square frame, or close to the edge, often works very well!

I decided to find out if my favorite shots (all non square) can be improve by cropping them into a square!  Here are the results...

Taken at the 2008 year of the rat CNY celebration in Wellington, New Zealand. The original non crop version can be view here.
Jerico, our neighbor's son; portraiture seems to like square format a lot! 
I was shooting a street market in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, this kind Malay family let me use their verandah. At the corner of my eyes I saw her with the baby... quick shot with Canon 80-200 at about 200mm. What can I say? Pure innocent... A 1998 candid shot. The square crop make the rectangular composition tighter.

My friend Jen Seow, famous Malaysian commercial photographer being interviewed by web designers from Malaysia Internet Resource. Circa 2001. Placing your subject at the corner of a square frame works well!
Tunku Abdul Rahman, first Prime Minister of Malaysia and actor William Holden.  Original crop can be view here.
"The Eyes", one of my favorite...  I was shooting a feature at Bethany Home (Home for disadvantaged children) at Simpang Empat, Perak; Malaysia. I had a feeling that I was being "watch".  Then I saw these BIG white, beautiful eyes peeping thro a classroom window.... Priya, 6; cannot hear and speak, what was she thinking?

The rectangular picture is the uncrop version and the square crop below. Which one do you prefer?

A prize winning sports picture taken in the late 70s at the Penang GP street race. Crop from a rather loose composition.

My all time Decisive Moment fav, "The Plane, The Plane!" A perfect SQUARE composition!

What about travel photos? Do square format work? Below are a few example...

The Blue Boat was taken in Penang, temple's josticks in Singapore; the "Tunnel" was in Salzburg and the river bank in Lucerne. Squares work!!

I am falling back in love with the square format again, I will be shooting a lot of SQUARE COMPOSITION from now on!

How?  With my Olympus OM-D, easy!

Come back soon :)

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