Capturing the world with Photography, Painting and Drawing

Going Square format

Square format in the landscape 1
The Grange viewing point , County Tipperary
Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Square format in the landscape


The concept of Square format images in photography dates back to its beginnings.

The idea of using this format makes great sense when you think about it, a lens placed at the front of the camera produces a fully round image so the idea of drawing a square in the centre of this circle and using this square for image produced on an exposed sheet of film would appear to make the best use of the lens for the final image.

In film cameras a camera that produces a square image is usually referred to as a 6×6 or 12×12, these figures referring to the size of the exposed film area. I have used and owned different 6×6 film camera using one during my photography course and for sometime after.

These are the basics of square format film cameras , today most Digital cameras work in a 6×4 image format, meaning that one side of the final image is 1/3 bigger in its dimensions that the other. Some digital cameras however (Such as the Canon G1 x) offer format options, because a sensor unlike film uses pixels to measure its dimensions, square format is now called 1×1.

Working with a digital camera in Square format your most likely going to use the LCD screen on the back of the camera to frame your image, cameras with electronic viewfinders however will show you the same 1×1 view of your subject. A camera with an optical view finder most likely cannot show you the view you need.

If you camera cannot work in anything other that 6×4 format , one trick if you want to produce a square image is to get some scotch tape and use it to square off the live view image that you see on you LCD screen, this will at least let you frame you image for this format.

Square format in the landscape

Square format in the landscape 5

Ok, so that’s a little bit about the history of this image format and how to produce images using it today, so what about the landscape images produced in Square format.

Yesterday, I took my Canon G1x out on a walk and set it up for a 1×1 image size, Personally I really like using this format.

Many Landscape photographers don’t and I fully understand why, the main reason is that you do not get the same width to your images, this width would appear to be a basic feature of producing a Landscape photo. The idea of removing 1/3 of the image width would appear to be to limiting and it can be, but not always.

Personally I feel the very benefits that come with wide landscape images can also be a problem, some images need to be restrained in their content to reduce distraction, a square format is a great solution.

I feel that with a square image you gain the exact same hight to your image and this lets you include tall features like poles and trees or an old house , yet you can more easily confine your image to just these main subjects.

I have done my best in the images below to try and explore this and show what I feel is the benefits to going square format with your camera.

Square format Gallery

Square format in the landscape 2

Square format in the landscape 3

Square format in the landscape 4

Square format in the landscape 5

Square format in the landscape 6

Square format in the landscape 1

30 responses

  1. LOVELY!

    February 26, 2014 at 1:07 pm

  2. Love it, I have to confess that I give little thought to the final ‘shape’ of my photos, I tend to snap away then crop down on editing (not that I do much of that either) but it is something I will bear in mind in future, not sure my camera will allow change of format, the only time I really change settings is to use it for the very rare panoramic shot.

    February 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    • Hello Paula πŸ™‚

      Thank you πŸ™‚

      Not all cameras do allow you to Paula, but you can still frame images with different formats in mind.

      This kind of thing becomes more of an issue when you do some printing , its just fun to think of how to frame an image for the final print and then the frame its going to be put in .

      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      February 26, 2014 at 9:28 pm

  3. Great photographs. In the digital age mags etc want portrait format shots to fit their pages and the web, including wordpress, works best with landscape format. The square fixes that and removes the worry about what format to chose. Secondly, it creates another interesting challenge for many of us. Its a great idea and I will eventually try it.

    February 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    • Hello Victor πŸ™‚

      Thank you !!!

      Yes !!!

      I agree with that πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      I also love the idea of thinking about how to frame the subject at the time it is in front of you, I guess this is because you my also be thinking of how it will be presented later, but its great to force yourself to think of the framing while your camera is on your hands πŸ™‚

      February 26, 2014 at 9:32 pm

  4. These are beautiful images, Nigel. The rain falling down, two lonely trees, and, oh! Hello Molly, enjoying your stick and having a very good hair day. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Just lovely.


    February 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    • Hello Sharon πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      Thank you πŸ™‚

      Hahaha πŸ™‚

      Yes , she has one most days πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      February 26, 2014 at 9:33 pm

  5. It surprised me to see how well your examples work with that format…It is true that is less distracting…I am going to think about that…Thanks a lot…!!!

    February 26, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    • Hello ilargia πŸ™‚

      Enjoy yourself , have some great fun πŸ™‚

      I think this is why I like this format so much,it make you think about what your capturing before you press the Button πŸ™‚

      February 26, 2014 at 9:37 pm

  6. Terrific photos Nigel, and I really like the tip you had on taping off the LCD screen… great stuff.

    February 26, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    • Hello Shane πŸ™‚

      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      I Never run out of uses for tape πŸ™‚

      February 26, 2014 at 9:38 pm

  7. Great shots! I agree that square format can be really pleasing; I’ve tried it too using analogue older cameras and really like it.

    February 26, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    • Hello Freddy πŸ™‚

      Thank you πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      Yes , I loved 6×6 film , missed it when I first went digital , so its great to re-find it and shot in this format ….

      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      February 26, 2014 at 9:42 pm

  8. Instagram has made the square format more popular, which is great because square frames and mats can be found in stores more, too. Beautiful images!

    February 26, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    • Hello Rene πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      You know I still have not looked a Instagram ….

      OMG am I getting a bit long in the tooth ? Hahaha !!!

      So many options , I will go have a look though !!!

      I have been so happy with wordpress and facebook !!

      February 26, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      • I don’t have an Instagram either, so you’re not alone. You’re right–so many options!

        February 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm

  9. I LOVE the square format, Nigel … but one thing I have to ask, and it’s honestly not meant to be offensive!: why do you always lower the gamma levels ..?

    February 26, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    • Hello M. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      Hahaha !!

      Your not and I don’t take it that way at all πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      I just love a more soft feel I guess , but I have not done so much here , it was just very dull yesterday I think ..

      UM !!

      Thank you though, I think when the bright summer days return you will see the difference..

      I can tell you live in a country with so much sun !!!

      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      February 26, 2014 at 9:49 pm

  10. I see that you too enjoy the winter skeletal trees

    February 26, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    • Hello Diana

      Yes, very much so πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      They are one of the best features , yes I just love them !!

      Very pleased you think so too !!

      February 27, 2014 at 12:43 am

  11. Excellent Nigel. The great Charlie Waite uses the square format a lot I think.

    February 26, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    • Hello Andy πŸ™‚

      Thank you , I will go have a search for his work πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      February 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm

  12. Highly effective with stunning images such as yours Nigel. A little more challenging for mere mortals such as us! : )))

    February 27, 2014 at 9:45 am

    • Hello Anne πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      Thank you ….


      NO! your images are just wonderful , I love your nature pictures Anne just stunning πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚


      Your pictures of Monty are just brilliant πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      February 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      • : )))))))

        February 28, 2014 at 11:32 pm

  13. Huh. Thanks for sharing this information on square formatting, Nigel, which is, quite frankly, news to me. I don’t think that will shock anybody. πŸ˜‰ I love the shots.

    February 27, 2014 at 9:30 pm

  14. I really love this square format. Perhaps it’s the element of balance that it offers that I find very attractive.

    March 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm

  15. This would be a format applicable to a square daily quote block on a desk or a calendar! Smiles, Robin

    March 8, 2014 at 5:55 pm

  16. Ajaytao2010

    Absolutely beautiful

    March 10, 2014 at 11:16 am

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