I have no standard method. Sometimes I crop, sometimes I don't. Many times, however, the print ends up more or less related to the film format. My 6x6 pictures are almost always cropped more square-ish than my 24x36. But sometimes my 24x36 negs end up as square prints, and sometimes I take a narrow strip of that 6x6 neg and make it a 1:3 panorama.
The available format definetly has its say in the way I compose, but when I return to the neg after a while I may see quite a different picture within that neg.
I'm not very helpful, am I?
When I shoot square, i tend to print square also...
Probably because I'm too lazy in the darkroom, I do my cropping at the photoshoot, and then print full frame...
Also because square images for some reason "talk" to me and I often see my images in squares even when I don't have a camera with me...
I've even been known to crop 2x3 ratio images (either from 35mm or digital) into squares...
it's hip to be square...
(sorry, couldn't help it...)
Patrick Jan Van Hove
"The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera"
, The Ultra-Large-Format photography homepage
I dont understand how anyone can have a rule or why they would try to consciously compose to a format, as this is a comprimise from the outset. For me, each image is dealt with as a unique visual experience and cropped in such a way as to communicate that as best as possible. I recently sold my TLR, but my images where all sorts of shapes as determined by what I felt was 'right'. I cannot comprehend any other approach as what would its purpose be other than convenience, which if important to a person, is fine. I sometimes have left images uncropped for speed and ease when doing basic record stuff, but I would not claim that it is more 'literal' or 'honest'. The only issue that does impinge upon my printing is that stubby rectangles are for me the hardest to frame and look pleasing. Squares are easier (whether in squarish or rectagular frames), any normal rectangle is easy as are panoramas, but stubby rectangles to me always look a tad clumsier on the wall, especially when large, so I tend to limit the enlargement if a stubby rectangle is the 'right' crop. Personally I often stick to the uncropped square format for portaits, esp environmental portaits/people, but for dedicated landscapes I would mainly crop to varying degrees.
I believe the original intent of the square format was to provide a camera that did not require one to change orientation from horizontal to verticle.
That being said, I am very stodgy and believe that I should always use a tripod except in conditions where not using one results in an improved image...mind you this is a rule for me and you should do whatever suits you. While many may not be able to visualize a b&W photo they should be able,when conditions allow the use of a tripod, to get the cropping they want unto the film irrespective of the dimensions of either the negative or paper. Good strong compostition rarely happens by chance.
I very rarely crop my 6x6 squares.
The square comes naturally to me when I compose.
I guess I am a square myself.
The only rare times I have cropped were to cover the limitation of having one lens.
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Originally Posted by Tom Stanworth
Some people organize their composition by using a basic frame of reference: the shape of the picture. Other people look at their subject and realize that it would need such and such format to look good. With your camera you are most of the time limited to using only one format at the time (square or rectangle). So starting from the given shape of your camera is a way to save time on re-framing the shot in the darkroom. If you want to make an 20x24 out of a 6x6, you will need to do a little bit more enlargement than if you did it from a 6x7, and that could make a difference on your finished product. It's actually not a compromise: you're trying to maximise the potential of your tools.
Your not understanding it has no bearing on whether it is or not a good methodology.
I tend to shoot the image as framed in the viewfinder of the camera I choose. If 6x6, I tend to frame an image that looks good in the viewfinder.
Sometimes I break out of that mode and intentionally shoot an image that I know I'll crop differently, but that's more rare, and usually because I don't have the lens handy to properly frame the shot, and it is fleeting. So in that case, I might still crop to a square, or not, just depends on what I see in the resulting image.
But usually, when I'm looking through a square viewfinder, the image just intuitively gets selected and shot based on that frame, and tends to stay that way in the print.
Er, yeah thanks for the last statement.
Originally Posted by mhv
I guess it comes down to priorities. I would feel that the proportions of a print are more important than enlargement size. I would therefore rather crop a 6x6 to a rectangular print (if that is the proportions I thought it needed) than to accept it as a sqaure (and therefore not crop the neg in the darkroom). I agree that the 'frame' can help compose, but it hinders as much as it assists. The world around us is not presented in 1:1 or 1.25:1 ratios. The photographer gets to choose the way final images are presented and does not have to accept the proportions of a viewfinder. The right shape is right shape. If that is square fine, if rectangular fine regardless of the viewfinder shape you started with. Not allowing oneself this flexiblity surely is a compromise on the aesthetic qualities of the image unless size is more important - personally it never is for me. I would rather have a well balanced 12x16 than a 16x16 thats less good, if the aesthetics were stronger in the rectangular format. I would consider the keeping 4 unwanted inches pointless.
You say, "[cropping a 6x6 to rectangular] If you want to make an 20x24 out of a 6x6, you will need to do a little bit more enlargement than if you did it from a 6x7, and that could make a difference on your finished product. It's actually not a compromise: you're trying to maximise the potential of your tools." You are compromising if you think the image looks right as a rectangle but wont crop it because you dont want to waste 'neg area' thus sticking to a square!
Are aesthetics not more important than sheer size? Either way it is a compromise, but I take photos to produce things I hope are aesthetically pleasing rather than just 'BIG'
I always crop my 6x6 to a rectangle, mainly because I am cheap - I mean, on a 8x10 sheet of paper, I paid for that 2x8 rectangle I am not using!!!
Seriously though, being able to compose a picture exactly the way it should look on a negative is quite a skill, one that I am striving for, but am a long way from achieving. Also, the type of shooting I usually do forces me to frame as best I can and hope that "my picture" is in there somewhere (and this may be an excuse for lack of above mentioned skill...).
I don't think (and this is my very humble opinion) that cropping is a bad thing, thoguh. Sometimes, unless you are shooting from a tripod, looking at a posed or better yet, immobile subject, you just don't have the time to take all possibilities into account, and you do the best you can. In the dark room, with the image "captive" on your negative, you have a lot more time to examine every angle, all possibilities, etc. - so you crop.
Yesterday, I realized that I have been conditioned to "fill the paper I have". I had a shot of a Hawker SeaFury (fighter plane - late 1940's), taken head on from ground level. This was a carrier based plane, and had folding wings. Its wings were folded up when displayed. I found the shape of it fascinating, so I took a shot that I carefully composed, and succeeded in getting onto the negative exactly the way I saw it in the (square) viewfinder.
Well, I think that poor easel of mine was ready to call Dr kavorkian - I turned it this way and that, adjusted it, zoomed in, out, etc. - until I realized...hey, I actually got this right! I am not sure where that conditoning comes from - I wold really like to think that my opening statement was purely humorous.. but perhaps it rings more true than I thought! Or is it schooled into me? Now I have a beautiful silhouette of a Hawker SeaFury with wings folded, only the huge spinner and prop showing detail and lovely, wet-looking highlights... printed on a perfect square! I am proud of that white strip on the bottom - it is a testimony to the shackles I threw off!
But in the end, if I was to show any of you a picture, square or rectangular or circular - whatever the shape, that you absolutely loved, you thought it was God's gift to photography, would you change your opinion if I told you afterwards it was cropped?
Let the 2x8 stay white and leave a huge signature there