Recently we talked about how (un)important aspect ratio is. The last few years, aside from occasional dips into square format, I’ve shot exclusively in 3:2, the ratio I became so embedded in from five years or so shooting 35mm film.
Though I still love 3:2 and it feels most right to me, my thoughts have changed a little.
So ever wanting to simplify and make photography more direct, as well as enjoy experiments along the way, I’m going to shoot only 4:3 for a while.
Here’s why –
1. The main cameras I use now (Ricoh GRD III, Ricoh GX100, Pentax Q and Sony Xperia smartphone) all have 4:3 as the default.
They can all shoot with other aspect ratios, and until very recently I had the Ricohs and Q set to 3:2. The Xperia can shoot 4:3 or 16:9. The latter fills the screen and is appealing in that sense, but I found I was then wanting the final image to be 3:2.
So I worked out where on the screen the crop would be either side for 3:2, and shot visualising that. The actual crop to 3:2 I can only do after the event, for example in Snapseed. Not a major chore, but I just don’t like cropping, it all got too complicated to visualise, and it’s a step I can eliminate entirely if I use 4:3.
Shooting 4:3 means with all of these cameras I see exactly what the composition will be on screen.
With the Ricohs and Pentax Q it’s using the whole screen (no more black bands top and bottom), and with the Xperia it means the whole composition area is free from the superimposed shutter button etc on the right.
I like this optimisation, purity, simplicity and consistency.
2. Not all classic photographs are 3:2 as I maybe once assumed.
In my paper over pixels quest, I’ve been looking at a couple of photography books over the last few weeks (The Altering Eye and The Nature Of Photographs – both highly recommended) and in both I’ve noticed that many of the photographs I like best are not in 3:2 but much nearer to a square format. I haven’t got my ruler out to measure but I would estimate many are 4:3 and 5:4.
This intrigues me and again whilst I love 3:2 and it’s become my default way of framing, I like that in one sense using 4:3 gives more space in the frame. And it makes the difference between portrait and landscape less obvious. Again more consistency.
3. Simply the challenge of seeing and framing a little differently.
I like to mix things up now and again, and whilst the difference between 3:2 and 4:3 is not radical, it’s enough to make me think a little harder when I’m composing. Which in turn slows me down, and hopefully means I take fewer photographs that end up being deleted.
Not that I’m averse to deleting photographs, I’m quite prolific at it, but I would like to increase my hit ratio.
And again just make things more consistent across the cameras I predominantly use. Using 4:3 with them all then means the major difference then between the three is the focal length of the lens and the perspective on the world it gives.
But I digress.
Which aspect ratio do you use most? Do you even know, or care?
Please let us know in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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