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Thread: Aspect Ratio

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    Aspect Ratio

    I currently print my images using a 3:2 ratio of 12 x 18, 16 x 24, etc., which gives me the full image captured by my cameras (D7000 & D600). I looked at the print sizes of many professional photographers and some use 3:2 or 4:5. Can anyone explain why some choose 3:2 vs. 4:5? Also, how do you compose an image different when shooting 4:5 vs. 3:2?

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    I can only speculate as to why they do this, but frankly there is (and always has been) a mismatch between camera format and paper format. One can either crop to the paper size in post-production or trim the paper to match the image size or anything in between. If you want to go this route, all you need is a paper cutter that handles the size of paper you are working to.

    If you are framing the print, one reason to go to a standard paper size is that standard sized frames tend to be less expensive than custom ones.

    Another reason could be purely for compositional purposes. If you have a panoramic image, you are going to be printing non-standard.

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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    Some subjects suit a different crop. Some compositions suit a different crop. Some people just prefer the look of 4x5. Commercially, clients may have preferences too.

    A lot of my images are cropped to 5x7 or 4x5. Going back in time before 35mm film cameras, with their 3x2 format, there was a multitude of other formats and sizes.

    You've got so many MP to play with there, why not try cropping and see how it affects your image. Don't worry, you'll still have plenty left to print big if you'd like (and it's non destructive and easy to try different ratios in Lightroom)

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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    In the UK there are 2 basic frame sizes. 5 x 4 ratio which gives 10 x 8 ins for example and the European A sizes which are approximately 3 x 2 ratio (but not exactly) which would give 12 x 8 ins prints.

    This is to some extent a result of traditional printing paper sizes. But printing paper now seems to come mostly in the A sizes, in various forms, if you live in Europe. Odd frame sizes are sometimes found, particularly the cheaper versions.

    So as Manfred mentioned, if I wish to print at 5 x 4 ratio (10 x 8 ins) I use A4 paper (297 x 210 mm) then crop to fit my image. There is often a bit of conversion needed between imperial and metric sizes. But I suppose today's children automatically think in terms of mm; or cms which really confuses me.

    This is why construction materials for example only use mm sizes even if that means working in thousands of mm's. But being an 'old timer' I often ask for a 5 ft length of 50 x 25 mm for example because measurements over 300 mm totally confuse me. However somethings like drill or screw sizes make more sense in mm than those traditional 1/64 th of an inch sizes.

    Let's try returning to your original question about shooting. For me, its simply a case of how I see a scene when looking through my viewfinder. Sometimes I know that I will need more on the sides than the height so I compose for 3 x 2.

    Other scenes will obviously work better when height is the over riding factor. In which case, I concentrate more on the height and know that I will be losing something from the sides.

    Often, I'm not sure which will be the final crop size so I allow plenty of spare space to give me more options. This is where all those extra pixels can be useful.

    Resizing for printing when using the A paper sizes does require a little bit of maths if you need to get exact sizes. And this can also need some special image cropping because 3 x 2 doesn't exactly fit.

    Like so much of photography, its all a case of experience; which should get easier over time - at least in theory!

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    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    I'm a bit confused by the original question - I personally print to the size that my finished product is. So, if in my head, and during post processing I've created an image that suits a 4:5 ratio, then I'll print it as a 4:5 ratio - size depending on how big I actually want it - ie 8"x10", 4"x5", etc, etc.

    If my original concept for the image was to be a 1:1, then that's exactly how I print it. 1:1. Again, size will vary depending on how big either the frame is, or where I plan to put the photo etc.

    So, I don't think I've helped to answer your question, but maybe it's because I'm not sure what you're asking. If, by chance you're asking why not every photographer just leaves their photos in the native format/ratio that the camera spits out, well that's because that would be boring! In fact, the native 2:3 ratio that my camera produces accounts for only a small portion of how I want my finished images to look.

    As for composition, well, you'd have to take that into account when you're imagining the image. You wouldn't be able to go snapping away with a 2:3 sensor, with the idea of having a 1:1 finished product in mind. That all comes in the planning phase.

    Again, sorry if I've totally missed the point of this thread, but to me, printing has nothing to do with aspect ratio - the vision of your finished product has everything to aspect ratio - and that's whether you print, or not.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by scwg43 View Post
    . Can anyone explain why some choose 3:2 vs. 4:5? Also, how do you compose an image different when shooting 4:5 vs. 3:2?
    I think it's also about personal preference and, resulting from that, training yourself to compose for one preferred aspect ratio or another.

    I'm still in a 1:1 (square) phase at the moment (and may or may not ever come out of it). Other than that, I make images in 4:5, 7:5 and 16:9. In terms of composing at the time of capture, I use cardboard cutouts in each of these ratios to help me 'see' the final image.

    Aspect Ratio
    Last edited by Donald; 17th March 2013 at 07:23 PM.

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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by dubaiphil View Post
    Some subjects suit a different crop. Some compositions suit a different crop.

    You've got so many MP to play with there, why not try cropping and see how it affects your image.
    Good answer - it's all about aesthetics, not "saving megapixels" or wasting paper.

    Glenn

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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I think it's also about personal preference and, resulting from that, training yourself to compose for one preferred aspect ratio or another.

    I'm still in a 1:1 (square) phase at the moment (and may or may not ever come out of it). Other than that, I make images in 4:5, 7:5 and 16:9. In terms of composing at the time of capture, I use cardboard cutouts in each of these ratios to help me 'see' the final image.

    Aspect Ratio
    Out of interest Donald, have you ever played with the idea of a collage of images of one aspect ratio to make one of a different ratio (eg 4 square landscapes into a single 4:1 image (or even a matrix of 2 x 2 making even a bigger square).

    Just thought you might find the result interesting.

    Aspect Ratio

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Out of interest Donald, have you ever played with the idea of a collage of images of one aspect ratio to make one of a different ratio (eg 4 square landscapes into a single 4:1 image (or even a matrix of 2 x 2 making even a bigger square).
    I haven't. Not sure I've got the confidence to think I'd make a good job of it. And the other factor is having the ability to see the final product. I'd never have 'seen' the opportunity that you did that led to your image above. It's an example of where I keep thinking that my creative imagination is not as developed as I'd like it to be.

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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    Thanks to everyone who responded to my question. My photographic subjects are landscapes and nautical subjects. I like the larger full frame 3:2 size and try to compose my images in the camera instead of in Lightroom or Photoshop . . . This is my preference, and I don't mean to imply it's the best method for everyone. I'm aware that printing non-standard sizes can be more expensive when it comes to mats, paper and frame glass. I just wanted to know if there were some other reasons I was not aware of for printing in the 4:5 format.

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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    Most of my journalistic work hits the web at the 3:2 aspect ratio my camera spits out. When the photo is more aesthetically sensitive than simple documentary work, I leave ACR's crop utility on standard mode, where it doesn't constrain the crop frame to a standard aspect ratio. I crop however I like, and then it gets complicated.

    For inexpensive prints, I'll find a size close to my preferred crop, then redo the crop to match. That lets me use standard frames while sticking close to the ideal look. For pricier or larger prints, I'll leave the custom crop as is. Since a lot of larger prints require custom frames anyway, using a non-standard aspect ratio isn't a cost problem. As Andrew said, the main consideration when choosing an aspect ratio is the aesthetics of your shot. Personally, my ratios are all over the place, but I've seen photographers who've been shooting 1:1 ratio black and white images for over 20 years. Both paths are valid, but driven by different objectives.

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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    I see more clearly now what you mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by scwg43 View Post
    My photographic subjects are landscapes and nautical subjects. I like the larger full frame 3:2 size and try to compose my images in the camera instead of in Lightroom or Photoshop . . .
    Does this mean when you see an image in your head (before you even pull the trigger), that it's always in a 3:2 ratio? It's certainly not for me, that's what I was trying to get across.

    I don't rely on Light Room, or Photoshop for composition, I use it as the only tool we have to get the result I was looking for. Again, printing has nothing to do with it - I only print 4:5 if that's what my finished product is.

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    Re: Aspect Ratio

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I haven't. Not sure I've got the confidence to think I'd make a good job of it. And the other factor is having the ability to see the final product. I'd never have 'seen' the opportunity that you did that led to your image above. It's an example of where I keep thinking that my creative imagination is not as developed as I'd like it to be.
    You're possibly over-thinking it a bit. More often than not I won't do something like my example with that pre-planned -- more a case of thinking about it afterwards.

    Perhaps next time you have a scene you like -- particularly if it's not one that fits your current 1:1 style - try zooming in a bit more and take a series of shots (you get more pleasing detail that way anyway), and then see if you can put them side by side (kinda like a pseudo wide-angle shot, but with a longer lens, with more detail).

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