Thursday, March 7, 2019

Using the Square Format+

At the last North Houston Photography Club meeting I was asked my opinion on the upcoming competition: Square Format. As usual I have a few. I promised to locate a few links. 

You can crop any image to a square. But unless you understand the square format you have most likely only created a crappy square image. There is a great deal more to making an effective, successful image in a square format beyond simply chopping off the ends. When you talk about square photographs you are basically talking about format or aspect ratio. 

Photography is a language and aspect ratio is one of the ways that language is expressed

So to start: format governs how we look at a photograph. A horizontal format is seen from left to right. It emphasis the horizontal lines or aspects of the subject matter. The vertical format is read top to bottom and emphasis the vertical aspects. The square is read from the center. Neither the horizontal or vertical is given more importance. This is one of the reasons that the square format works probably best when the subject is centered. Symmetrical composition work exceptionally well. Shapes are emphasized in square format—look for squares, triangles, circles. Repetition of pattern and frame in frame work well. And on top of that, bless my pointed little head, it makes the rule of thirds totally irrelevant and usually a detriment. 

I bought my first Rolliflex in 1959 (60 years ago and I still have the first photograph I took with it). I love the square format. Here are  five excellent articles on using the square format.

And here is a general discussion of format or aspect ratio that is well worth the read.

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