Aspect Ratio Conundrum

Walter Glover
Posts: 883
Joined: 31 Jul 2012, 22:31
Location: Leichhardt, NSW

Aspect Ratio Conundrum

Postby Walter Glover » 27 Mar 2016, 23:18

I am toying, yet again, with shooting a lot of my built environment stuff on roll film in the 6x12 format rather than the 'full frame' sheet of 4x5.

I wonder what YOU think about this:


Image

Here is a shot of a ruin for sale that was shot on 6x12 using a roll film back. It was visualised, committed and presented with a 6x12 in mind from the kick-off.



Image

This time a full 4x5 of a Newcastle Hospital precinct ear-marked for demolition. The old building is set within its context with room and air to breathe.



Image

And now a crop of the above to approximate what a 6x12 would be. The context remains to a large extent but, to me, the weight and balance of the image is significantly altered.



Over to you .....
Walter Glover

"Photography was not a bastard left by science on the doorstep of art, but a legitimate child of the Western pictorial tradition." —Robert Galassi

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Maris
Posts: 513
Joined: 27 Jul 2012, 16:02
Location: Noosa

Re: Aspect Ratio Conundrum

Postby Maris » 28 Mar 2016, 05:18

Here are some guesses:

Aspect ratio is just one of many expressive devices that is available to creative picture-making. And the picture-maker can't be wrong, even in principle, if the picture ends up saying what it has to say.

Extreme ratios, 16:9, 6:17, maybe even 6:12, have assertive optical and aesthetic signatures which limit the choice of compatible subject matter. Either the pictures end up looking "samey" or one runs out of good subjects. Productivity gets constrained. The world of "portrait" oriented pictures is virtually closed. How many really good vertical 617s are out there? None?

Cameras seem to force aspect ratio choices. When I carry a square shooter all the photographs turn out square. Why? I reckon it's because if the viewfinder image doesn't look good square I just don't press the shutter release. The immediacy of the first view trumps the idle thought I might crop the picture later.

I mainly choose the 4:5 and 5:4 aspect ratios because they are non-square enough to accommodate horizontals, flat landscapes and railway tracks, and tall enough to fit in verticals, trees and people, without the picture being about the aspect rather than the subject.

The personal element is strong. Decades ago when I shot 35mm I thought that overly broad format was just dandy. Wrong then, right now ... maybe.

Lachlan717
Posts: 487
Joined: 03 Aug 2012, 16:49

Re: Aspect Ratio Conundrum

Postby Lachlan717 » 28 Mar 2016, 05:59

I find that I see the world in panoramic or square.

My "happiest" view is around the 2.5:1 area. Since going from near 3:1 (617) to more like 2.5:1 (7x17"), I much more comfortable and get more shot I think are okay.

I despise 4:5 (horizontal 4x5"). Simple as that. It feels both too cropped and not cropped enough at the same time. Aesthetic conundrum stuff. It's not as bad in 5:4, but I still would prefer a square crop.

This is not just a LF thing - I have my iPhone camera set to square and use the panning tool. I never seem to use its "regular" ratio...

Walter Glover
Posts: 883
Joined: 31 Jul 2012, 22:31
Location: Leichhardt, NSW

Re: Aspect Ratio Conundrum

Postby Walter Glover » 28 Mar 2016, 12:26

Maris wrote:The world of "portrait" oriented pictures is virtually closed. How many really good vertical 617s are out there? None?


Prior to selling all my books in January, Maris, I had a couple of books by Horst Hamann of 6x17 vertical cityscapes. New York was an no-brainer first subject. They were curious images but sadly somewhat forced when viewed in quantity.

With an aspect ratio of 6x12 I experience no discomfort. It makes me think I am shooting wide-screen motion pictures. I find the format quite powerful as a narrative medium which is possibly why the story-tellers of cinema have always opted for wider than the original 4x3 of TV and film.

Given that a major motif of pursuit for me is the built environment presented in context I feel the notion tugging at me.

Cheers,
Walter Glover

"Photography was not a bastard left by science on the doorstep of art, but a legitimate child of the Western pictorial tradition." —Robert Galassi

Walter Glover
Posts: 883
Joined: 31 Jul 2012, 22:31
Location: Leichhardt, NSW

Re: Aspect Ratio Conundrum

Postby Walter Glover » 28 Mar 2016, 12:31

Lachlan717 wrote:My "happiest" view is around the 2.5:1 area. Since going from near 3:1 (617) to more like 2.5:1 (7x17"), I much more comfortable and get more shot I think are okay.


I suspect that you well be right about the 2.5:1 Lachlan,

And you also make mention of another favourite of mine — THE SQUARE!

I know my eyes pretty well by now and I am pretty convinced that my strongest drive is for photographs ABOUT things and places rather than simply portraits OF things and places ..... and the wider aspect ratio seems to lend considerable strength in that area.

Cheers,
Walter Glover

"Photography was not a bastard left by science on the doorstep of art, but a legitimate child of the Western pictorial tradition." —Robert Galassi


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