Square printing

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sqphoto

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Anybody interested in talking about square format composition and how you shoot to fill the negative and then make your own black and white, square prints, as close as possible to using the whole negative. Bullets on questions you ask yourself while you are composing. Or, what's the last thing you do before you squeeze the shutter?
 

David A. Goldfarb

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I find I'm more conscious of using the edges of the frame when I'm shooting 6x6. Many of my compositions tend to run along a cross centered in the frame or along one of the diagonals, and even occasionally on the thirds, though I don't intentionally try to compose according to the rule of thirds. Circles in the square can work nicely. The corners pull more with the square than with the rectangle.
 

Flotsam

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Way back in the olden times, I used to look at 12" record album covers. Even the ones that sucked (IMHO) musically often had photographs of a variety of subjects, usually portrait but often pictorial, that were beautifully composed to a square format. Even the graphic covers could be instructive from a purely compositional viewpoint.
 

gma

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I have often thought that square is the only way to print square negatives. I do not think that there is anything inherently incorrect about a square picture. I think it is too hard to view a square image of a subject with a preconception of cropping the image to be either vertical or horizontal to either 8x10 or 5x7 proportions. What you see is what you get.
 

blansky

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A while ago on this site we discussed "the golden mean" which is a concept that states something like: this is a universal dimension, repeated in nature, that we seem to be drawn to and feel comfortable with.

http://www.vashti.net/mceinc/golden.htm

The shape is used close to, and used in things like 8x10 dimensions, credit cards/id cards, magazines, newspapers, you name it.

However TV screens are square, or were, and we have gotten use to that.

Personally, although I shoot with a 6x6 I have almost never printed a square print. Even though it works great for certain things.

Cheryl shoots and prints square almost exclusively, so her input would add to the discussion.

Michael McBlane
 

Flotsam

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I always try to compose to the format that I am working in. However, I believe that the subject ultimately should determine the shape of the print.
 

Leon

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When I shoot using my 6x6 mf cameras, I always print square - even if it's a crop of the original neg size, i still crop to a square - it all makes so much sense to me. To compose the image, I walk around looking in the viewfinder until the motif looks correct, I dont consciously look at thirds or any other "rule" of composition. And strangely, when people have looked at my photographs, very rarely have they said "I wish this wasnt square" or "what a strange format".
 

Fintan

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I always print square from 6x6 negatives and never crop anymore than about 5% [as my viewfinder is approx 95% and occasionally I find something on the neg that I hadnt intended]

To answer your question; what's the last thing you do before you squeeze the shutter?

I cant really explain it but I just look for a sort of balance, I know it when I get it.

Rather than focusing on the theory of the square composition I check out different photographers that use this format and see what I think works and what I think doesn't. I regulary go to www.hasselblad.se and look at their gallery, both their masters and forum magazine which I subscribe to. I also buy books by square-eyed photogrphers.

I agree with you, people love this format. Personally I cant understand why someone like Michael would buy a square format and almost never print square. To me there is a mystery about it, I even find it difficult to use 35mm [except xpan 65mmx24mm] as I'm conditioned to the square.

http://www.phototechmag.com/previous-articles/sept99-mort.htm
 

Les McLean

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The last thing I do before I release the shutter is to quickly glance around all 4 edges of the framed image to check that there are no annoying intrusions that may be difficult to deal with in the darkroom.

On the subject of using a square format and always printing the full frame: why place such a restriction on how you "see" a subject? I think you are in serious danger of making photographs to a formula by following this practice, square prints do work but not for every photograph you make. I've taught myself to frame the subject before I look through the camera and so eliminate the possibility that I'll frame to suit the format.
 

Fintan

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No formula Les really, I just like to print full frame and square. Its just an extra challenge especially with fixed focal lengths. Its how I pre-visualise. I'm not long enough [or good enough] taking photographs to have a "style" yet but this is just how I like to do it. Photography for me is a journey and not just a destination.
 

Les McLean

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Fintan said:
No formula Les really, I just like to print full frame and square. Its just an extra challenge especially with fixed focal lengths. Its how I pre-visualise. I'm not long enough [or good enough] taking photographs to have a "style" yet but this is just how I like to do it. Photography for me is a journey and not just a destination.


Pre-visualisation is about the mood, message held within the subject or how you see the subject and not about the shape of the final print. Style evolves through seeing and making photographs and concentrating on "why" the photograph was made. As a matter of interest the reason that I feel so strongly about this issue is that for the first 15 years that I made photographs I used a 6 x 6 Minolta Autocord with a fixed 80mm lens and for a time framed and printed everything in the sqaure format of the camera and then realised that my photographs were becoming a cliche. I understand that you like square images, so do I and I often print them, but please do be careful not to overdo it.
 

Fintan

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points taken Les, thank you. Apologies to matherto for hijacking your thread
 

blansky

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Fintan said:

I agree with you, people love this format. Personally I cant understand why someone like Michael would buy a square format and almost never print square.

That is a valid question. When I started with a Hasselblad I was just starting my business. I shot exclusively color portraits. Studio portrait photographers generally buy ready made frames, folders etc from our suppliers. The range of frames is extensive and high quality.

Unfortunately, they as well as the folders for small prints only came in 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 16x20, 20x24, 24x30 etc. never square.

So it is a habit that has stuck with me and I rarely "see" square.

Michael McBlane
 

Fintan

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makes sense alright, ready made square frames/mounts are not so common.

Funnily enough it was album sleeves that got me interested in photography, maybe thats where I get it from.
 

skahde

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I'm trying to follow a top-down approach. Decided on the framing and try to fill them now. Unfortunately I decided on rectangules but keep on composing and printing square <g>.

Stefan
 

gma

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skahde,
That is exactly why I say it is better to make a square print from a square negative. When you are making the exposure you see the whole square and not a cropped rectangular image. I think this is why I have never wanted to use 6x6 format.
 

Cheryl Jacobs

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Yeah, as Michael mentioned, I do lots of squares. Really, it's just the way I see. Something about the rule of thirds within a square really appeals to me. And on rare occasions when an image works with dead-centered composition, square can really pack a punch. When I used to shoot 35mm, I found myself constantly wanting to chop off one end or the other, so I just went with it and bought a 6x6.

A lot of times for me, since I primarily photograph people, it's about negative space (no pun intended.) I like room for context, whether it's explicit or implicit. I use my 6x6 mostly for candids, so there really is no time to think about anything other than 'the moment' before I hit the shutter. Sometimes I find the need to crop something out. Usually, though, I've managed to take it all in subconsciously (I know that sounds snobby) so I can generally print full frame.

Dead Link Removed

- CJ
 

ksmattfish

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L7, baby...

I fell in love with square prints with my Rollei TLR. Then it's film advance jammed, and it's waiting on a repair budget. I bought a WL finder for my P67II, and now I find myself composing for the square when I'm using it.
 

jd callow

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I shoot 6x6, 6x9 and 4x5. I would love to say that I choose the format that best suits the subject, but that would be a lie. I find that the square is more demanding. It is far less dramatic than the 6x9 (same as 35mm) and less formal, to my eye, than 4x5. The square is less forgiving of unused space. By its very nature, every area is equal and requires attention.

When I compose w/ the square I don't think in thirds spatially but maybe in (there was a url link here which no longer exists). In that I will put something of lesser importance (~33%) on one side and some thing of greater importance (~66%) on the other. Or use that type of balance front to back. Another technique is to have the (there was a url link here which no longer exists) you to the subject. The final technique I seem to employ is to (there was a url link here which no longer exists)with the object. This stuffing causes the square to become a container that just barely holds the image. In all formats (there was a url link here which no longer exists)is important and is possibly most important in a square.
 

skahde

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gma said:
When you are making the exposure you see the whole square and not a cropped rectangular image.

There is a way around this: Opaque document-tape in the corners of the groundglass. The screen in the Hassi is covered with sheets of glass, bottom and top. Appropriate markings are easy to apply and remove.

BTW.: The outside-lines on the grid-screen approximate 4.5x6 vertically and horizontally.

Stefan
 

Fintan

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There is a cheap format mask set [part no 41151] available for hasselblad film backs / viewfinders that allow you to see and expose rectangle formats [6 X 4.5 & Panoramic] which work on most of their 6x6 cameras. Its about $10 used or $30 new.
 

gma

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The Zeiss folder I have ordered is 4.5x6 (almost the same proportions as 8x10) so fortunately I will not have to learn to think in a different shaped format.
 

dpneal

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I love the square.

I especially love printing full-frame 6.5" or so squares, then mounting/matting them to 8x10". Gorgeous.
 

Ed Sukach

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I've heard the repeated argument that the Square Format "wastes" so much paper.

There is always a flip side ... the Rectangular Format "wastes" *so* much of the lens image ....

So which is more important - the lens field, or the paper?

Y' pays yer money and yer takes yer choice ...

Oooops ... I forgot we have many international members who might not understand that ...
It was a common cry from Circus sideshow attendants to try to get participants to "throw the balls at the bottles" - and if you were successful, "You paid your money, and you seleted whatever prize you wanted.
 
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