Why I Crop My Photos Square

I’ve been cropping my photos square since way before Instagram and Twitter popularized the shape – but my reason’s not much more credible than anyone else’s. 🙂 Back in the 90’s when I was spending lots of time in darkrooms developing my first arty photos my friends and I lusted for “medium-format” cameras. 35mm film was great for holiday photos, but for magazine covers and billboards you needed a much larger negative to work with – so medium-format cameras had wide (usually 6cm across!) rolls of film that were usually shot as 6x6cm square photos.

Oh how I coveted arts school students and their huge square negatives with their artful square composition. 🙂 By the time I got there though the film industry collapse was well underway. With digital camera technology rapidly consuming pro photography the medium format became a kind of niche tool for artists and holdouts. You can still get them, but between the fuss of the darkroom and the lack of film processing services you’ve got to be really dedicated to celluloid to make it work. Medium and large-format digital cameras are pretty amazing but the price tag is astronomical and the technology actually trickles down from the DSLR market – unless you have a very high-end application you’re probably better off sticking to your 35mm equipment.

Despite the glamour, medium format had it’s downsides – because the negative was huge you had to find some way to expose more surface area with the same amount of light – either you had to shoot still subjects, invest in very large and expensive lenses, or you had to have very bright studio lighting to compensate for the extra stops you lose trying to expose all of that surface area. Moving up to a high-end Medium Format could be very expensive and usually marked either a professional portrait photographer or a very wealthy hobbyist.

All of this to say that I often crop my photos square because I want to pretend I’m a hoity-toity medium format photographer like the people I admired and respected in the 90s. 🙂 It’s a little sad.


Tulip Photos

I enjoy taking pictures of natural subjects, and flowers are so crazily photogenic that I often find myself shooting series after series of shots in the front garden. I’ve been trying to push myself to get creative with angles and lighting to add some visual interest to what usually turn out to be pedestrian flower shots, and as a result I was really proud of this backlit tulip macro that feels almost like a glowing landscape.


See-through Reptiles

I think cleared and stained specimens are really fascinating – this is collage from a tiny reptile that was in a jar on display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto – it’s a bit morbid maybe but the organic shapes of the skeleton are so strange and alien. It’s amazing to be able to look into a creature and learn from it’s biology.


Green for Spring

We’re getting snowed on again, March 31st. I’m not as sensitive to the weather as a lot of my friends, but I’m done with winter and wish it would move along so I could get on with my garden plans for spring. Just to keep our minds focused on the greenery of the near future – here’s a backlit peace lily picture I snapped.