19 Apr 2012


The rise of Instagram with its retro look photo editing has started to make square photos more prevalent .It's rather odd that square photos are so rare.I guess our computer monitors and TVs are landscape format ,35mm cameras were landscape--most of the time- and digital cameras just carried the landscape format forward.
I have read that we see the world in landscape format but I am not so sure about that .Maybe we see a square world and mentally crop it to landscape. Of course with digital ( and film) cameras you can always crop the photos to square but now with digital the camera manufacturers could easily build in a square mask which could be turned on to allow us to compose and take square photos when we wanted.

Historically square photos were associated with rollfilm cameras and in particular Hasselblads and Rolleiflexes .Both were/are iconic premium brands -in the upper crust of cameras alongside Leica .Rolleis are wonderful examples of,precision ,miniature Geman engineering.Hasselblads are Swedish and are equally high precision .I always lusted after a'blad but never got round to buying one .

The photos below look like period shots but they were taken by Roger Putnam at Jaguar's Brown Lane HQ in 1997 on a baby Rolleiflex TLR ( twin lens reflex) camera which produced 4cm X 4cm negatives on 127 film.I believe Roger still has this camera.As they get old the complex chain of gears and little springs in their Compur leaf shutters can slow down or stop functioning .Fixing them is possible but not cheap and is becoming increasingly difficult as the old camera repair experts retire or move onto the great camera workshop in the sky.

The first photo shows the ex-Steve McQueen XKS--JAG 1.
In the second the long nose D Type in the foreground is the ex works Mike Hawthorn car with two XKS's behind it.

The Jaguar plant and HQ was bang in the middle of a typical English Midlands housing estate-the houses are visible in the background on the second photo. In the end the houses won .The plant has gone now. 

The baby Rolleiflex

1 comment:

  1. you binocular visioned may see in landscape mode, physiologically logical from two slightly overlapping circles. Add a natural focus on the horizon/land-earth interface in center of view and landscape is a natural extension. Us mono-visioned see the square format as a better replication of the real world. However I would go a step further and ask for a circular frame ;-)