Composing for the 6" x 6" square

Mosca

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One thing that I didn't know about my E-P1, and that pleases me, is that I have the option to shoot a 6" square frame. Now, in my mind, this is different from shooting a regular frame and cropping; this means that I can visualize the square as I take the shot.

Back in the day, back in the day... my dad shot square with his old Rolleiflex twin lens. But those were family snapshots. Still; there is nothing inherently wrong, nothing disorienting, about shooting square.

Anyone here shooting squares? What can you tell me about how it feels; what are the emotional limits placed on you perception when shooting this way, and what limits are imposed by viewing square?

And just as important, what freedoms are granted?
 

Christilou

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I quite often use the square format. I think, for me, it seems like less to worry about when framing the shot. I don't shoot landscapes very often, just flowers, family, cats etc. I have also discovered that I'm a details kind of person. I like the smaller picture and not so much the larger one! All my mother's photos of me as a baby are squares too, with crinkled edges!
 

Streetshooter

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In the square format, make a tic tac toe pattern or rule of thirds on the screen/image.
The 4 intersecting corners are your tension points.
Try doing a portrait centered in the square. Now reframe so an eye is on a tension point.
Magic!
 

Streetshooter

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Those 4 corners start in a direction to increase tension by going out to the edge or decrease by going in to the center.

I did a body of work long ago and it was all diamonds.
Very different but interesting. Great for portraits.
 

Bokeh Diem

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I am regularly cropping to the square format on the G1, as I am a pooch for format and proportion. Don't know if I can 'shoot' the square there though.

Bokeh D
 

Streetshooter

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Here's another about the square dynamic.
Make a line from corner to oposite corner on the angle intersecting the square from the rule of thirds. Do it on both opposing corners.
Any point on that line is a tension point away from center.
 

Mosca

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Yeah, 6cm x 6cm. I was envisioning my dad's vacation photos from the '50s and '60s.

I was thinking that the square format lent itself more to angles and patterns. And that because of its nature, it tends to imply more outside the frame, or could be used that way... that's not exactly what I'm trying to say. A vertical shot implies more on each side but not over or under, and a wide shot tends to imply that there is not really anything over or under but more on each side, or that what is shown is what the shot is. (Not that it has to, of course, but often it works that way.) A square shot could be used to imply that there is anything in any direction, or, more properly, I was thinking to use it to imply things in every direction. Or nothing in any other direction.

I'm going to have to experiment with that one, and post some shots when I get them to say what I think I want them to say. It could be a bunch of blather, but let's see.
 

cosinaphile

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i do shoot square sometimes

it is a liberation, and frees our mind from one of the decisions of taking a picture , namely choosing between landscape and portrait orientation..i feel this has a psychological dimension and our minds can wander into new territory without the preconceived notions about filling a frame this way or that and making sense of the choice of a wide or tall photo

the square is free ,on many levels, of any preconceived notions..... or stymieing conventions.

furthermore, ill go out on a limb and call it a purer form , both mathematically and aesthetically than any rectangle be it 4:3 ,3:2 or 16:9

i dont know why i dont use it more!
 

Streetshooter

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Here's a fast diagram.....I'm a shooter not a drawer....
The vertical and horizontal lines create Passive tension. The angled lines create Aggressive tension.
I made this quick, long stressful emotional weekend for me.
If you make a copy of this or draw it, place a small dot on a line anyplace.Then move the dot around and see what happens. If you visualize this when you compose with a square, then you can control the eye travel of the viewer either passively or aggressively.
If you don't believe this works, look at Penn, Avedon, Mapplethorpe to name a few. See, I told ya......
 

Attachments

cosinaphile

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that is absolutely true shooter, and reminds me of the excellent courses i took in college
under the painter theo stavropoulos whose lectures and comments on visual dynamics[ theo used the same phrase] echo the points you are making...

the angles and sides of an image have varying effects on forms and differing tension ... this affects focal points.... visual flow ..and how the eye will wander in the viewers of the image

.etc
be they painted with oil or with light , being in touch with the forms and colors values and dynamics of whats inside your frame will make or break the visual success of your image
 

Grant

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Shooter for those that have a GF1 and want to use your information there is an option, under Custom Menu > Guide lines, to bring up your diagram as an overlay on their screen. It fits all of the GF1 aspect ratios. That being said I am not sure about any other camera.
 

Streetshooter

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Grant,
Yeah but does it come up on the Square format? I never checked on my Pens. I have that etched in my brain for decades so I don't need to see it but others just starting, it could be a great asset.
Thanks Grant.....
 

Grant

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Yes, it does come up in square format in fact it is optimized for what ever format you select. I like you never use it :)

Just a thought … Even if I am shooting for a square format I shoot with full real estate and crop in post. I figure this gives me a second chance to make a first impression. But that is just my bent.
 

Caroline

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I really love the square format, especially for black and white and even more so for the Grainy B&W art filter as you can get remarkably close to a 50s/60s square 120 roll film look with that.

Must admit I started with the 35mm format and came to square formats late on in my photographic "journey", but now I think it is one of my favourite formats - the shots you get are often very different in composition from any of the rectangular formats and of course there's no concept of "portrait" or "landscape" orientation which makes it quite a different "feel" too.
 

Mosca

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cosinaphille said:
the angles and sides of an image have varying effects on forms and differing tension ... this affects focal points.... visual flow ..and how the eye will wander in the viewers of the image

.etc
be they painted with oil or with light , being in touch with the forms and colors values and dynamics of whats inside your frame will make or break the visual success of your image
That's exactly what I'm thinking about. How a square image is perceived, how the eye wanders through it, how to use the square to create pleasure, whether through tension or coherence. I've tried following it through Freeman's Ways of Seeing, but that just seemed to me to be like so much after-the-fact analysis. Not that it isn't accurate, but it isn't useful before the photo is taken. Maybe I'm just not artsy fartsy enough? I'm so rooted in being representational!

Grant said:
Just a thought … Even if I am shooting for a square format I shoot with full real estate and crop in post. I figure this gives me a second chance to make a first impression. But that is just my bent.
Grant, that's what I've always done, too. Again, though, when I've done that, it's been after the fact. I'm thinking of an exercise in shooting mid-day, taking advantage of stark light and shadows rather than avoiding them (because, let's face it, this guy isn't getting up before dawn, and he isn't missing dinner either), and composing square to take advantage of it.

That's it. Today, I'm going to go to the Steamtown Rail Museum. Bright concrete, black steam engines, high sun and stark shadows, and I'll shoot square. If it works, I'll post a gallery and a link. If it doesn't, I'll post that it was... unpleasant... to look at.
 

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