And no, I don't mean your eyesight getting worse as you age. I'm talking about how your photographic conception changes as you experiment amongst formats. When I started out, I was very much a square-format guy. My primary camera was a Hasselblad. I loved the square, and always composed out to the corners. On only very rare occasions would I crop anything to a rectangle. I moved into Large Format, and initially worked 4x5, then added 8x10, which is the same proportion. They're both fairly square, and so it was pretty easy to go back and forth from those to 6x6cm. Well, I picked up a 5x7 a year and some ago, and it has become my favorite format. This weekend, I went out to shoot with one of my photo buddies, and didn't feel like bringing anything big, so I grabbed my Graflex 22 TLR and my Contax G1 (I had 1/3 roll of color neg in it I wanted to finish off). I can of course still compose to square, but it no longer felt natural or comfortable. My perception has changed; now I see in the elongated rectangle of 5x7, or the really elongated panorama of 5x12.
How have you all experienced this, if you've done some format switching? Have you settled on a different aspect ratio than you began working in, only to go back later and find out that the original aspect ratio didn't suit your way of seeing anymore? Or do you easily switch between formats?
I've preferred the square format, using a Rolleiflex earlier and desperately trying to get a Hasselblad working now. Even so, most of my photographs are 35mm. However, I find myself vigorously cropping 1/3 of the 35's to square format--moving the subject further left or right, or whatever. I like that--it gives me more control over the print, allows for more creativity, and there is something about that square that I find so pleasing.
I can relate. I love the 5x7" and 35mm format frames. I shot Hasselblad as a professional portrait photographer and found the camera to be wonderful, but the square a pain in the butt if your end products were 4x5", 5x7", ... 20x30" prints. I shoot 4x5" mostly these days and find the need to adjust to these proportions as well. I have found I can more easily compose my negative and positive space more freely within the 5x7" frame. Maybe it all started with watching the TV screen proportions as a child.
While the way I see has changed over the years, my format has remained the same. I'm 4x5 through and through. It's the biggest gear I can comfortably (?!?) carry through the bush all day, and gives the quality of enlargements I want. There are times though when a subject insists on shaving an inconsequential tid-bit from an edge.
Some things, however, just don't want to settle into a 4x5 frame, so for several years I've been doing diptychs, triptychs, and manymoretychs when they present themselves. To up the ante and make it more fun I'll only take them when each negative in the sequence is a balanced composition all on its own.
I could see myself going panoramic if I lived in a flat desert region, but where I live there are so many mountains and trees that conveniently fill the upper portions of the frame
Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.
I do. I work comfortably with whatever I'm using that day.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
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I started out with my 35mm, got the Hassy and moved to 6x6, got a folder & played with 6x7 and pretty much been happy with all of them. I have no desire to move to anything bigger, and as a matter of fact, I decided to make a concerted effort to "get involved" with just one format for a while. It's nice having the stability of shooting just 35mm for a while. It's been a tumuluous year, and it just feels really comfortable to get back to this format.
I'm sure I will return to 6x6 because I really love the square format. Just, for me, right now, I need to be in 35mm "mode".
Great topic, Scott!
I've done pretty much the same thing-started with 35mm, then 6x6, the mostly 5x4, then more 6x6 and some 35mm again, now going to stick to 10x8 contacts (unless I want a specific look or LF is totally impractical). The square format is great for abstracts, especially of natural forms, and portraits too (esp headshots)-plus I still have plenty of APX400 in 120 . 10x8 attracts me because of seeing the image on the screen the same size as it'll be in the print (plus you can't beat a contact print for quality IMO, even on horrid RC paper).
"He took to writing poetry and visiting the elves: and though many shook their heads and touched their foreheads and said 'Poor old Baggins!' and though few believed any of his tales, he remained very happy till the end of his days, and those were extraordinarily long "- JRR Tolkien, ' The Hobbit '.
Although most of my work has been 5x4 or 10x8 recently (the last 20+ years) I find I always compose to fit the format subconsciously.
Recently I've been shooting 6x17 and again the format & composition seems to come together naturally. I'm looking forward to shooting 2¼ square again something I haven't done for over 25 years, since my favourite Mamiya's a C33 and C3 were stolen, a Yashica 124 bought of a fellow APUG member sits in the UK waiting for my next trip home.
Scott raises an interesting question about how we see, I've always worked to the full frame regardless of camera and format but always had a feeling of frustration on occasions and a hankering for a panoramic camera.
So changing format doesn't change my overall vision but it does impact on the image composition.
When I got back into photography about a dozen years ago, I was using 35mm and knew it just wasn't cutting it with the kind of work I wanted to do so I started to use my C220 a lot. Trouble with that was that I couldn't use a polarizer effectively, and couldn't check DOF. So I got a P67 and 3 lenses which seemed for years like the best of all possible worlds till I discovered my secret, unrequited lust for LF. I now have two of them (monorail, and field) with 3 lenses and I find myself really frustrated at how long it takes to get everything ready to shoot when the light or other natural phenomenon is moving quicker than I can. Plus, it's a bloody heavy kit. So......of all things, I've returned to my C220 with a light 'pod and ball head, and I've never been happier. I am also completely given over to square format. However.....this too shall pass. I know I'll be back to the 4x5 before long, and the P67 too until I decide to .........and then.....until......