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  1. #1
    Sparky's Avatar
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    Musings on format (aspect ratio I mean)

    I really didn't know what category to place this in - so I chose enlarging... as one can always crop, I suppose. This is an issue I've been grappling with lately. I shoot medium and 4x5 formats... and still have yet to be really SOLD on any ONE format... much as I would LIKE to be. So- I find myself very attracted to squares. I find square format really nice for a lot of reasons - I think it's easier in general to find subject matter which will work with this frame.

    But also - an equal fave would be 6x12 (2xsquare). I find 6x9 ABHORRENT - though I AM aware it COULD be solely out of association with 35mm equipment. Beyond 6x12 is generally pretty okay too - as the ratios sort of break down and, to me, it all becomes just 'rather long', but very suitable for some subject matter. One's sort of limited to landscapes, quite naturally. As a sidenote, I find the golden section pretty awful too! - I don't buy into that (I'm suspecting that attractive ratios have ONLY to do with cognitive association).

    So I'm wondering if anyone had similar (or opposing) views... and, more importantly, why they have these views... might be interesting if we can find some commonalities.

  2. #2
    Sparky's Avatar
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    Sheer coincidence probably (or is it - a CONSPIRACY??*) - but I just realized that 4x10 and 8x20 are APPROXIMATELY the same ratio as the almighty american dollar.

    *

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky View Post
    Sheer coincidence probably (or is it - a CONSPIRACY??*) - but I just realized that 4x10 and 8x20 are APPROXIMATELY the same ratio as the almighty american dollar.

    *
    Clearly a conspiracy! (And there will be those whose sense of humour has been surgically removed who will now accuse us of anti-Americanism.)

    Apart from that, I really like whole-plate and Linhof 56x72mm, both near enough 1.3:1. I often find 1.5:1 (2:3, whether 35mm, 44x66mm or 6x9cm) too long and thin, and 2:1 (6x12) is a really nasty shape, too stubby for a panoram and too long for anything else: I like 2.5:1 for panorams. This is of course 4x10 inch or 8x20 inch (CONSPIRACY!!!) though I'd rather crop 6x12cm on the long dimension for 45x112mm and blow it up 3x for 135x336mm or a bit over 5 inches by a bit over 13 inches. Do this right and you can't easily tell it from a contact print.

    Ultimately, I suspect you can get used to almost anything, but some things will always be easier than others for some photographers and some subjects. For example, I regard 8x10 as an awkward shape for anything other than portraits (for which I love it), and from a hobby/fine art viewpoint I can't see the point of 4x5 inch at all: as far as I am concerned it has all the disadvantages of both roll-film and sheet film, and almost none of the advantages of either. I'd rather use either 56x72mm and a bit more effort or 13x18cm/5x7 inch/half-plate instead.

    Cheers,

    R.

  4. #4

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    It's an interesting question and one I've also pondered. My response depends on the orientation of the image too.

    For portrait format landscapes I prefer 6x7 with 4x5 coming second. 6x9 is hideous for this type of image.

    6x6 is attractive when done well and awful when it isn't.

    For landscape format landscapes 6x9 actually works quite well. I find 6x12 very unpleasant to look at with a 2.5:1 or 3:1 ratio working much better. 6x7 isn't very successful for landscape orientation.

    For portraits I think 4x5 works best.

    It's interesting just how much of a bearing the image dimensions can have on our aesthetic enjoyment of an image!

    Barry

  5. #5
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    I have recently been using 12 x 16 as I managed to get a selection of papers in this size for little cost. I really like the size and the format (1.33:1) and I can usually fit my RB67 6x7 images on it quite well.

    One thing that surprises me though is that although I like the square format of my Rolleicord whilst taking the photograph, they usually end up looking better cropped to a rectangle when printing than keeping as a whole square frame.


    Steve.

  6. #6
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    This is why I have no problem with cropping. No negative dimension is sacrosanct because there is no right aspect ratio for all things. I view 4x5 as having 4 and having 5 and I compose to use one or the other to maximum advantage.
    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. In velit arcu, consequat at, interdum sit amet, consequat in, quam.

  7. #7

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    I second MIchael. I see no inherent virtue to forcing an image into some arbitrary ratio. Mat cutting isn't that expensive. ;>)

    Neal Wydra

  8. #8

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    5x7 or 6x9 are clearly the only true formats. All others are not worthy.

    The only reason for square formats is so they can be cropped into one of the true formats.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Zentena View Post
    5x7 or 6x9 are clearly the only true formats. All others are not worthy.

    The only reason for square formats is so they can be cropped into one of the true formats.
    Dear Nick,

    5x7 at f/64 or 13x18cm at f/63?

    R.

  10. #10

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    No F/32. F/64 can only be used for the Godfather format. AKA 11x14.

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