View Full Version : The square & the landscape!

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10-03-2008, 08:15 AM
I shoot more 6x6 than 35 mm and I never think about it.
I have no problems at all composing square!

Thomas Bertilsson
10-03-2008, 08:29 AM
I don't know. My first medium format camera was square format. I've tried to stay with the square format to simplify things. I crop sometimes, but I don't really think about it. I just consider the image area available to me on the ground glass and use what's there. If there's a distracting element, or something that sticks out, I just crop it later.
It doesn't seem that important to me.
- Thomas

10-03-2008, 10:39 AM
I learned to photograph with a Rolleiflex -- I love the square. Instead of a linear side-to-side (or vertical) eye movement across the image, the square encourages a circular eye movement. Wonderful to work with. But then I also like working with 4"x10" also.


10-03-2008, 10:51 AM
I love 6x6 but, living up here where in the main the landscapes are fairly flat, it is rather a challenge. Having said that, after messing with 6x9, 35mm and even 5x7, I still prefer 6x6.

Jim Noel
10-03-2008, 11:45 AM
I think the best advice I've received so far was Les McLean telling me to not be constrained by my viewfinder. I do shoot square in the landscape (although not for true vista type landscapes) and generally print square too, but since paying heed to Les' advice, I have opened up a new world of opportunities from my 6x6 negs - crop, crop, crop!
I am with Leon. The square provides the opportunity to use any part of the image vertical or horizontal when printing. I seem to use either a square format camera or a panaromic. The common 4x5, 8x10 rectangle is boring to me.

10-03-2008, 11:52 AM
Squares tend to be my preferred ratio for landscape and scenic. At least half of the landscapes and scenic shots that satisfied me were squares or close to square.

I do like 4:5, 5:7 and 6:7 and 6:8 for landscape & scenic, but these are all considerably squarer than 3:2.

Different strokes for different folks.... thank God we don't all think and shoot the same way.

10-03-2008, 12:43 PM
I think that since we have binocular vision and our natural view is somewhat rectangular, it's natural to go rectangular for landscapes. For that reason, I bought a 645 camera...but I use my 6x6 Rolleicord more. Go figger.

Gary Holliday
10-03-2008, 06:12 PM
I couldn't live without the square, picking out the abstract in the landscape. Placing things dead centre and looking for symmetry. I find the rectangle unbalanced!

10-03-2008, 07:13 PM
I love the square format and am always looking for inspiration. Here are two fine examples of the format: Josef Hoflehner http://www.josefhoflehner.com/ and Magnum photographer Peter Marlow http://www.petermarlow.com/

10-06-2008, 03:21 PM
Like so many others here, I have shot 6x6 since I got one of my first cameras back in 1960 and I print 95% of everything I shoot square as square... I feel more comfortable seeing that way from 40+ years of doing it... and when I have a boring 4x5 image, I often find that there is a great square image hiding in it.

When I do crop one of my 6x6 landscapes, I find that the most often crop is to a 3x6 image (2:1 L:W) which is a great landscape format for the right image. I think that a 6x12 back for the 4x5 would be a great addition to the kit, for that reason (although I know that I can crop a 6x12 image out of a 4x5 negative...).

But the fact is, I would still mostly shoot and print square.

11-10-2008, 02:44 AM
The square format works well for me. Especially for my waterfall shots in the Columbia Gorge here in Oregon. When I bought my Hasselblad, the salesman told me that i would have to get used to cropping part of the picture, but I liked what I saw from my prints, and have given it little thought ever since. The only time I rectangle crop is for portraits.

Ian Grant
11-10-2008, 07:25 AM
Recently I've been shooting 6x6 again for the first time in over 20 years. I'd been using mainly 5x4 & 10x8 as well as 6x17 but find it's instinctive shooting to fit the format regardless, I compose to fill the whole frame & don't crop when I print.

So while I initially expected returning to a square format might be difficult in fact I found by the end of the first roll it was natural, and easy to work to.


12-19-2008, 07:36 PM
I am not a fan of square landscapes I have to admit, they are uncomfortable and unnatural to look at because they feel like looking at a landscape through one eye.

Paul Jenkin
12-29-2008, 05:51 PM
Whatever the aspect ratio, I believe it's possible to take successful photographs of any subject matter or genre. Yes, there are challenges but that's the beauty as well as the curse of photography. Don't forget, you can also crop to panoramic or any other aspect ratio from square (and vice versa). We're not obliged to use the full negative 'as shot'....!

12-29-2008, 06:19 PM
I recently got a 8x8 speed easel.

Old thread, what the heck.


Renato Tonelli
12-29-2008, 07:49 PM
I recently got a 8x8 speed easel.

Old thread, what the heck.


That's a great find! I didn't even know they were made.

12-29-2008, 09:02 PM
The sheet that came with mine indicates they made several square sizes

3x3, 3.5x3.5, 4x4, 5x5, 7x7, 8x8, 10x10, 11x11, 14x14, and they would quote prices on custom sizes.


12-29-2008, 09:09 PM
The aspect ratio is *almost* the only reason I shoot square format. (The other is for candid style headshots, so I can be quick and not have to rotate the camera...and I also prefer using a WLF for this sort of thing.) The second I first looked into a square format camera, I was blown away by how easy it was to get a good composition. Everything looks good. The hardest part about square format is that I tend to overshoot (many variations on same basic composition) because of this, so waste a lot of time changing film, and a lot of time looking at contact sheets choosing what to print! It is not uncommon that I will blow a roll of 120 on only two or three subjects when shooting my C33. It is not my favorite ratio for for capturing a highly "active" composition, but over all, I think it is the easiest to compose.

Notice I did not say that square pictures are my favorite pictures to view...simply that the compositions seem to "fall" into place the most easily. My all time favorite aspect ratio is 1.5:1.

I love shooting large format and my new RZ, but I find the 1.25:1 aspect ratio to be very difficult to compose. It seems either too "fat" to me, or like it should just be square. (I guess I need a P3! :D) I try to compose shots to fit the format, and *always* compose with the intent to preserve at least two edges as shot, but it is still pretty routine for me to shoot with the intent to crop a bit with 4x5 and 6x7cm shots; either to make it square or to make it a longer rectangle. Not so with 35, 6x6, 645, etc.

As for landscapes on 1:1, I can see it being easier with a wide lens. When I first got my Mamiya, I tried some landscape things with it. I did a really fun landscape project with it, where you step into a cyclorama showing a 360 degree view. However, all of the shots were cropped to fit on 8x10 paper, and I used a prism for the shots anyhow. The TLR was in no way necessary, as I wasn't using any of its unique features. In fact, I would have needed a footstool to even compose the shots with the WLF. I am *not* hauling a footstool to the top of Eagle Rock with me! 645 would have been at least just as good, and probably better, in fact. My favorite formats for landscapes are 645 and 5x7. They are not identical ratios, but both are about the same; a little fatter than 1.5:1, but not as fat as 1.25:1. I don't use the C33 for landscapes anymore (though fairly often for "cityscapes", albeit usually hand held). I use an M645 instead for medium format landscapes.

12-29-2008, 11:33 PM
Designers that I know cite two reasons why they like the square format. 1) they just like it; it offers them lots of possibilities for design within a prescribed basic geometrical space and 2) they can crop either vertically or horizontally to suit their needs.

My wife shoots square format landscapes because she likes the square. I've heard her explain why, but can't recall her specific words. What it came down to, though, was that she likes the square. How about that? She uses it well. Of course, since she uses a tlr with the taking lens replaced with a zone plate, what she sees is NOT what she's gonna get.

John Gutmann was a surrealist. He shot the Rolleiflex. I think he liked it because since the mirror reversed the image, getting the horizons straight was really hard to do. He preferred the tilt, and I think that the square image, regular and stable, is just about totally upset by stuff like that. Very surrealistic! His stuff is great. Worth checking out, for sure.

Anyway, I think there might be a lot of reasons to use the square, and not all of them will be really easy to explain. Since I have an on-again off-again relationship with the viewfinder, I guess I just don't care very much.

Colin Corneau
12-30-2008, 12:02 AM
Click on this guy's "North America" section...seems he can make the square format work alright.


I've had good luck with it as well. I think I just like how stripped down and simple it is. Zen-like...whatever you want to call it.