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Ambassadors Programme

Ambassador

Jeff Ascough

Nov30

It's hip to be square

By Jeff Ascough, Monday November 30, 2015
The bride's grandmother sees her granddaughter for the first time on the wedding day  morning. She is comforted by the matron of honour. The square format concentrates  the eye on the emotion. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF85mm f/1.2 USM  lens; the exposure was 1/200sec at f/3.5, ISO 1600.

The bride's grandmother sees her granddaughter for the first time on the wedding day
morning. She is comforted by the matron of honour. The square format concentrates
the eye on the emotion. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF85mm f/1.2 USM
lens; the exposure was 1/200sec at f/3.5, ISO 1600. © Jeff Ascough

The square was very much the format of choice for wedding photographers when I started my career. It fell out of fashion for quite a time when SLR and DSLR cameras started to gain popularity but photo sharing sites like Instagram have made me want to rediscover the square format once again.

Undoubtedly, working with a square (in terms of composition) is harder than with the common 3:2 ratio which I know so well, but the confines of the square frame give an unmistakable ‘arty’ quality to images, particularly those shot in black and white.

Canon, like all the other DSLR manufacturers, don’t make a square format camera but the resolution and image quality that are attainable through all of its pro level models does allow for some serious square cropping without any noticeable loss of image quality. I don’t yet own the Canon EOS 5DS but if my current interest in the square format continues, it may be the camera to allow me to explore the format further with it’s huge file size and medium format image quality.

Composing an image as a square within the 3:2 format takes a little bit of visual gymnastics but it can be done – especially if the option to show a grid in the Canon viewfinder is enabled. It’s not a perfect solution (a masked viewfinder would be ideal) but the grid does give a quick and dirty visual check to make sure the elements I want to contain are included within the square frame.

So what are the other advantages to shooting square? The most obvious one is that the camera can stay in one orientation - if you are someone that likes to use on-camera flash, this makes life so much easier. Similarly, if you use a tripod then square is easier to work with. Alas, I don’t use a tripod or on-camera flash so the only real advantage for me is to think differently when shooting and to come out of my comfort zone once in a while. Anything that does that must be a good thing!

The wedding guests taking a break after the wedding breakfast. Here the square format 
 has brought the two main elements of the composition together. In the 3:2 original, 
 the couple walking in the reflection were a little lost in the frame. Taken on a 
 Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF135mm f/2L USM lens; the exposure was 1/320sec 
 at f/4, ISO 1600.

The wedding guests taking a break after the wedding breakfast. Here the square format
has brought the two main elements of the composition together. In the 3:2 original,
the couple walking in the reflection were a little lost in the frame. Taken on a
Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF135mm f/2L USM lens; the exposure was 1/320sec
at f/4, ISO 1600. © Jeff Ascough

The groom waiting for the bride's arrival while the bridesmaids make their way 
 down the aisle in this outdoor ceremony. The square format cleans up the composition and 
 emphasises the bridesmaids when compared to the original 3:2 image. Taken on a 
 Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF135mm f/2L USM lens; the exposure was 1/3200sec 
 at f/4.5, ISO 400.

The groom waiting for the bride's arrival while the bridesmaids make their way
down the aisle in this outdoor ceremony. The square format cleans up the composition and
emphasises the bridesmaids when compared to the original 3:2 image. Taken on a
Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF135mm f/2L USM lens; the exposure was 1/3200sec
at f/4.5, ISO 400. © Jeff Ascough