This is the first I've heard that 6x6 format was intended to be cropped to 6x4.5, but was only made 6x6 so you wouldn't have to turn the camera on its side. Who's intent was it? Can you provide some historical evidence of this assertion? This is a challenge, but I hope you will consider it a polite one. I am not saying you are wrong, nor do I claim intimate knowledge of the history of film formats. But in my 30+ years of photography, I've never heard such a thing. If I you can back that up, then I will be grateful for the enlightenment.
Originally Posted by Peltigera
I think of square format as liberation from the constrictions of conventional landscape and portrait orientations. Square format lends itself to intimacy. I tend to compose more naturally according to the rule of thirds in square format than in rectangular formats. If I crop a square format image, it is because I flubbed the composition, and have to resort to cropping in order to salvage some interesting part of the image.
If you like the perspective you get from shooting while on your belly, and you like macro, I recommend an MF SLR. An LF camera is very tedious to use while lying on your belly. You could probably do it if you were 12 to 20 years old, but beyond that, you'll find an MF SLR easier to use.
Originally Posted by kbrede
The RZ67 is a big and heavy MF camera. All 6X7 SLRs are big, and unwieldy. 6x7 rangefinder cameras are big, but you can handle them easily. For practical purposes, 99% of the time you will want a 6x7 on a tripod, just as you would a LF camera. If the ability to handhold is important, a Hasselblad or Bronical square format, or a 6x4.5 will be a better choice. You can't beat a Hasselblad, in my opinion.
Rectangular format is useful. So is square. Don't worry so much about the format as the handling of the camera under the circumstances you plan to shoot in.
BTW, the nearest I ever came to shooting a LF camera on my belly was when I set up my tripod in chest-deep water in a slow-moving river. I was able to stand upright, with the 4x5 camera just above the surface of the water, so I had a perspective resembling a belly shot. But aside from being wet, I was much more comfortable standing up than I would have been lying on my belly, and I was able to operate the camera normally. Cleaning all the mud out of my tripod was a bother.
I cannot provide evidence of my assertion and do not have the time to research it. My understanding is that the square format was introduced for TLR cameras that cannot sensibly be used on their side. Whose intent? I suspect Franke & Heidecke came up with the idea. Were there 6x6 cameras before the Rolleiflex? Square is certainly not seen by artists in general as a good format for a picture and I cannot see a camera manufacturer coming up with square on artistic grounds.
Originally Posted by SkipA
No, you have to use the ground glass to focus. If you have the time, though, it works quite well and is not too heavy to shlep around. You might also consider the Pentax 6x7 or 67 series, which is quite convenient to work with "on the fly" and can be obtained quite cheaply in the used market these days. Top speed 1/1000, and there is a choice of viewfinders (eye-level or top down).
Originally Posted by kbrede
That's another sweeping generalization about squares in art. While certainly less common than rectangles, there are plenty of squares out there, and even odder shapes like triangles, circles and ovals. If you're going to make an assertion that squares are not good for art, back it up.
Originally Posted by Peltigera
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I shoot these days mostly 35 mm, 6x6 and 4x5 (and like the 4x5-8x10 ratio the most). To me the square represents an inherent dynamism, and I feel an image that is composed as square instead of more rectangular can often carry a bit more tension in it while for example an 8x10 landscape can be calm and peaceful, image content apart, but this will sound like overgeneralization, too.
Originally Posted by Peltigera
I had a discussion about the square format with a graphic artist the other day after I saw her new series was all on 22x22 cm plates. She loved the square format.
My preference for the strong square is the reason I'm not getting a 645 camera: I would always miss a little on the sides or the top and bottom.
It's very easy to find some highly successful square images both in the APUG gallery and elsewhere.
Last edited by Aron; 08-22-2012 at 10:29 AM. Click to view previous post history.
It can be very hard to get people to read what you write. I did NOT say no one had ever made a square picture before 6x6 120 film format was invented. I said it was not generally seen as a good format.
"If you're going to make an assertion that squares are not good for art, back it up."
Should I ever be moved to make that assertion, young TheFlyingCamera, I will most certainly back it up. In the mean time, learn to read!
A visit to any painting gallery will easily reveal that the rectangular format it's the preferred one by artists of the last centuries. Square format exists, but it is not widespread. Oval and round paintings exist as well, but they are somehow exceptions to the rule.
The "portrait" and "landscape" orientations probably come from painters parlance. Painted portraits of 1 persons are usually in portrait orientation and landscapes are usually in landscape orientation. Think Monna Lisa or the Supper at Emmaus as just bare examples. Artists seems to have always had a strong preference for some form of "orientation" when painting on canvas even though it would have been quite easy to make a square work. (Paintings on plates are obviously round, and the tondo itself is not a rare form of "orientation", but certainly is not common). This is seen all over the world: Chinese or Japanese prints, for what I recall, also tend to have a rectangular shape (either portrait or landscape depending on the subject).
Probably painting formats influenced photography formats, although it is much easier to crop a photographic print than a canvas, especially after you painted it .
So I think it can be said with confidence that when photography reached commercial maturity let's say at the end of the XIX century the LF cameras had a roughly square format but ultimately the final product was normally either a portrait to hang on a wall (probably vertical) or a portrait of several persons, a family group to be hanged on a wall (probably horizontal). Or maybe a landscape (probably horizontal) or architectural work (orientation depending on subject, but normally either landscape or portrait). Portraits though were probably the large part of the photographer's commissioned job, by far. Single portraits (portrait) or group portraits (landscape). Just as it ever was in painting.
If you commission a portrait of yourself to a photographer - as an alternative to the commission to a painter - you expect somehow a result which is related to the painted portrait. The pose, the composition, the attitude of the photographic portraits are not radically different from those of the painted portraits. Photographers inherited the painters "language" and with it they inherited the sense of orientation, although with photography they could have easily chosen any form or shape.
It's possible to make a photographic portrait inside a complex leaf shape paper such as an oak leave, but photographers never really exploited this flexibility they have at hand, probably because they remained "bound" to the painting "language".
Looking at old prints, stamps and paintings one very often see an orientation. The square format in the final product is, if not rare, at least uncommon.
A LF camera cannot be easily tilted sideway and from LF (with its "roughly square" film formats) to MF the idea that the image on film is square and the final product is probably either portrait or landscape was I think quite natural and instinctive in any photographer of the time.
Paper is not sold in square format for a reason! If and when you need a square image, you crop the paper. But normally you would need a rectangular paper (which doesn't rule out some further cropping for compositional reasons).
Oscar Barnack cameras didn't force "orientation" and the need to think in terms of orientation. Orientation was probably in the mind of every photographer since the birth of photography. The small format can be markedly rectangular just because somehow for the first time in photographic history it was very easy to orient the camera without clumsiness.
I think it's also interesting that cinema, even though probably or possibly begun in square format, soon developed into landscape mode, and even panoramic mode, reinforcing IMO the idea that the square format is not favoured by image creators (unless they have a specific compositional reason to prefer the square format).
EDIT Maybe one of the reasons of the scarce success of the 126 format among advanced amateurs was that in a small camera the square format makes no sense, as it is easy to turn the camera on one side. This could be an indirect "proof" that the photographer normally thinks in terms of "orientation" in any case.
Last edited by Diapositivo; 08-22-2012 at 12:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Diapositivo: That doesn't explain the insane success of the Diana and Holga that exclusively shoots in squares.
The "insane success" is very hard to explain to my mind, with or without the square format.