On Friday I had the privilege to attend a talk by dance photographer Lois Greenfield. During the talk she discussed her choice in her most recent gallery to use square cropping (1:1 ratio), as opposed to the more conventional 4:3 or 5:7. Some of her images had actually been shot on a square frame in the days of film. Since the transition to digital, square frames have been largely out of style replaced by the more common 4:3/ 5:7. However, with the rising popularity of Instagram, and the resurgence of Polaroid, square cropping is back in the public eye. Looking at the Louis Greenfield gallery, her choice to use a 1:1 crop ratio created interest and worked well for the type of images she was displaying. When I returned home, I decided to try my hand at a 1:1 crop on some of my photos. In the past I’ve nearly always stuck with the default ratio delivered to me by the camera, and re-cropping a little whenever I would get prints. I don’t know why I never experimented with other ratios, but I’ve just always used the in camera ratio since it was the one the images were delivered in.
I started with my most recent shots, some dance photography for my Intermediate photography class.
These are low-res copies of the images I used for the sake of readability and quick loading times. Clicking on the pictures will link you to a Full-Res copy hosted on my gallery.
This is the original Cropping, followed with a 1:1 crop
Here’s another dance shot, with the 1:1 crop
So this far I’m very happy with the way a 1:1 crop works for dance photography. It seems by the nature of dance that a 4:3 crop creates a lot of wasted space. The 1:1 crop eliminates the wasted space on either side of the dancers, allowing the audience to focus in on the dancers.
Next, I’m going to move on to a few portraits and candids of single subjects I’ve done over the years:
I’m also pleased with the portraits. Similar to the dance photography, a 1:1 crop eliminates a lot of unused space and focuses the image in on the subject.
Now I’m going to move on to some landscapes/ nature photography
I’m not sure how I feel about this one, I could take it or leave it honestly. While I find the graded transition in the color of the sky appealing in the 1:1 crop, I think that the removal of the road and power lines does take away from the overall composition.
Lets look at another, this one is a landscape again, I cropped it on the right side of the frame to keep the building in. This is a picture of my college campus, and the building is clearly identifiable as the university center,
This one, I like, but it feels a little off to me. The crop has completely changed the composition of the shot. In the first shot, the image is a landscape with a building in it, but the second seems more like the building is the subject of the image. I started playing with some adjustments in Lightroom, and tried some black and white filters. I’m not sure if my own preconceptions about a 1:1 ratio being associated with black and white are shading my opinion, but I like the B&W filters combined with the 1:1 ratio.
Here’s the image above, B&W and color side by side
I used the Red High-contrast Filter in Adobe Lightroom. The lack of color allowed me to further accentuate the contrast in the image. I can make the blacks blacker and whites whiter. While I liked the color in the original image, now looking at the B&W, I think that for the 1:1 ratio the B&W is a better fit.
Since I liked it with this image, I decided to go back and explore it’s usage in some of the other images.
All in all, I’ve found this to be a very interesting exercise. I am pleased by the results. In the future I think I may consider a 1:1 ratio for my images, along with more experimentation with B&W Filters. If you want to see a few more examples of 1:1 cropping you can head over to the applicable folder on my website. There are several other images that I left out of this post for the sake of brevity.