Inadvertent exercise.

I guess the real definition of a creative person is to have a short attention span and a distaste for doing anything the same way twice. That, and always wanting to do something in a different way from everyone else.  At least that's the way I see it.

I bought some Panasonic cameras last year and to make the most of their  (nearly) square footage----available sensor resolution---I really should be shooting in the 4:3 format. Anything else crops out useful information. But that seems to dictatorial when it comes to creative composition. And it may explain why, after months of compulsory full format shooting with the those m4:3 rascals I've come to enjoy the 16:9 format. It defies logical good practice when it comes to maximizing image quality but it's weirdly dynamic. You lose the top and the bottom of the frame but then you have to use your brain to make things fit in and make the size and shape make sense.

Last Fall I was doing a demo and the camera I was using at the time was hooked up (wirelessly) to an HD television set. The technicians and I decided to set the camera to the 16:9 format to match the full screen of the television. I shot that way for two full days and now, when I look at the images I shot, I am happy to have cropped different. 

I guess it's also an active exercise in learning how to compose for videos and films. All of the cameras I'm using for those disciplines are locked into the 16:9 format. Since I'm traditionally a square shooter it's almost a necessary exercise to see in a new way and to break out of that mould.

Makes my brain hurt a little but it does change the way I see things in the finders. I like the variation.
But....this essay in no way creates of permanent contract for me to only shoot long and skinny. I'll be back to my fat and sassy 1:1 format soon enough.


Ananda Sim said...

The tyranny of aspect ratio locked in paper format. For mom and dad baby shots we used to have to print postcard size (3R, 5R). And the albums and plastic sleeves forced us to do that. Now we have the tyranny of 16:9 because of widescreen TV. But I am released. My wife watches widescreen TV. I barely watch the old CRT. I post on G+. Yes there are vertical and horizontal slants but really the end medium doesn't care. And that's freedom for me.

Anonymous said...

Well, now that most cameras shoot either 4:3 or 3:2 natively, the fat & sassy 1:1 format is becoming fashionable again, at least in some circles. Imagine that. :)

I use 4:3 mostly for portraits these days. It's easier to make the usual prints of of those. I use 3:2 for generic snapshots, both vertical and horizontal. Now that my shooting bias has been moving increasingly towards video, I've taken the habit of shooting in 16:9 in landscape orientation quite a bit, so that the stills shot can be easily imported into a photo-video fusion pieces.

They don't look too shabby as standalone stills shots, either, as the 16:9 has become a new digital display standard. But horizontal only, not much in vertical format.
Fortunately my 'old' but still dear APS-C mirrorless camera can do all three formats both in jpeg and RAW mode, and the choice is behind just one button push.

Shooting 16:9 both for video and stills has changed my shooting habits a bit, though. Earlier I was a keen portrait orientation shooter, but that has started to dry away along with 16:9. At first I had to unlearn the (almost automatic) habit of turning the camera in vertical position for every second shot, to (almost) always shooting horizontal.

That said, and to bring the long stream of thought back to the beginning, I've noticed I would turn the camera in the fat & sassy 1:1 mode every now and then, just for the refreshing heck of it. Especially when sharing snapshots online. No need to worry about camera orientation. :)

Frank Grygier said...

The cinematic look.