Shooting in squares…

It’s tough to think square again! I’m spoiled (aren’t we all) by the ease of digital photography – nice proportions – wide screen – big images – bold colors – lots of megapixels. Exposures? Shutter speeds? Composition? No worries – the technological gems we hang from our necks will think for us. I’m as guilty as anyone – I love what digital can do and what it can’t.

Now try to think of the world in little squares – 6 x 6 centimeter squares to be exact. It’s hard to do – modern formats are always elongated squares. Who loads square images on their blog? The square format went out with the Instamatic! But if you’re lucky enough to own (or have access to) a medium format (6×6) camera then you too can shoot in squares.

I recently took one of my Yashica TLRs out on a date – threw in some fresh Fujifilm and off I went. I must confess – I love color! Sure I like an occasional fling with some black and white (Neopan 100 Acros) but color gets me going. Not “computer generated color” – the subtle color you see only on film. It’s there (just like in real life) but it doesn’t tackle you to the ground like some overly saturated digital image. Just nice and easy color.

These following images were taken with my Yashica-Mat EM twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera. Exposures were determined (suggested actually) by the EM’s on board exposure meter. Yashica claims that it’s built-in but it’s really just attached to the left side of the body by three screws and a wire. No TTL or coupled metering here… just a bunch of tiny numbers on top of more tiny numbers with an almost invisible pointer pointing at those tiny numbers. I chose Fujifilm’s Fujicolor PRO 400H color negative film because I enjoy shooting with Fujifilm and usually like the results. I will point out that no post production was done on these images. No cropping, no color adjustments – they’re just as they were when developed and scanned by the lab (which was The Darkroom).


This is actually image 12 on the roll. Taken on day 2 of my travels. Perfect small town America shot. I lost my bright sun from the day before but the Fujicolor 400 made up for the dull sky. Is it properly exposed? Probably not. Off by about 1 stop or so.


Day 1 – image 7 on the roll. The Fujicolor handled the strong contrast between the sky and building. The Yashica’s meter did a fantastic job. About 1/500 at f/ 16-22.


Faded Florida – along U.S. Highway 17 in North Florida. High contrast with strong shadows. f/ 16 at 1/500.


A nice test for the Tomioka 80mm lens. No flare and some nice highlights on the water. 1/250 at around f/ 11-16. I metered to the left of the bridge. Looking south into Florida from Georgia. Highway 17 bridge over the St. Marys River.


Looking north towards Georgia. The Yashica’s meter did a wonderful job suggesting the proper shutter speed and aperture setting. 1/250 at f/ 16.

Shooting in squares can be fun and challenging. Do I think some of the images would be better in a 6 x 4.5 or 6 x 7 format? Yes – definitely. Can I learn to enjoy squares again? Yes – definitely.

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