Copyright Notice

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dare to be Square!

Back in the day - yipes! - I've reached the age where I say things like "back in the day...", it's just not fair...
But "back in the day" I did quite a lot of my photography on a Mamiya C330, which is a twin-lens reflex type camera (TLR, vs SLR, get it?) that used medium format film with a 6x6cm image area. In addition to offering an image area several times larger than 35mm, and therefore clearer, sharper enlargements, shooting with this camera offered me 2 other very distinct differences from 35mm: the viewpoint was close to waist-level, not eye-level like my Nikon. And the format was square, not rectangular. Now, I do some pretty strange things, but looking at the world from belly-button level isn't something I do everyday, so the change in vantage point in using a TLR forced me to look at things a little differenty. And the square format? Imagine losing your peripheral vision, or looking at the world like a one-eyed pirate (I love that word - "Pirate").
The point is, looking back, I created some great images with that Mamiya primarily because it saw the world differently than I did, and forced me to do the same. The mundane sometimes revealed some hidden specialness simply because I approached it from a different point of view.
Many of today's digital camera's offer a choice of varying aspect ratios, usually 2:3, 4:3, 16:9, as well as special settings that allow you to shoot monochrome (black and white), sepia (warm brown) and cyanotype (cool blue tint).
Sadly, my beloved C330 is long gone, sacrificed as trade-in to a brief lust over a 4x5 field camera. But my Olympus EPL2 now offers me the option of shooting monochrome, in a 6x6 square, and with the optional (and quite too expensive) tilting viewfinder, also gives me the option of shooting waist-level again (well, okay, the camera is so small, its more like chest-level, but still a lower POV).
So, my challenge to you: find out if your own favorite camera allows you to shoot in a format other than you normally do, and in monochrome, and go shoot a bunch of everyday stuff right where you live. See if you can't "see" as differently as the camera does. Can you find some hidden specialness that was hiding in another format or color space?

I shot the photos below in that brief winter window between getting home, and it getting too dark out to photograph - about 30 minutes, while walking the dogs. Nothing special; just a garden wall, defunct bench, and other found objects as I was walking around. I shot these "in-camera" as square black and whites, but since I shot in "RAW", and not jpeg, I was also able to go back and "unprocess" them to their original format and color for a comparison. In addition to being square and monochrome, I also used my old Nikkor 50mm 1.4 wide-open for a very shallow depth-of-field to further enhance the "differentness" of how I was looking at these scenes. What follows is a "before and after" comparison of rectangular color vs. square B&W.
Things to pay attention to: compositional changes, abstractness of B&W, monochromatic interpretation of certain colors, and quality of light. Have fun with your own experiments!

1 comment:

  1. Check out this post on my blog.
    I think you will like it.