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166+ Series #16: Tipsteroids 166+, Part 4

Continuing with the techniques of composition of a square format image, it’s really important to understand how to fit some technical features of the camera (in this case the Lubitel 166+), with the composition of pictures, so that you have consciousness of what you’re doing, while shooting.

Photo by tall_bastard

It is not always the 35mm format that uses the best technical conditions of a camera. Let’s see why…

Good Relationship between Square Format and Lens
The shape of lens is circle. So that the light has a cone shape. A conic light fits better the square format, than a rectangular frame, because there will be always a problem with the rectangular format: let’s analyze the two possible cases.

  • In the first case you have a part of the cone of light that goes outside of the rectangular frame;
  • In the second case the cone stays entirely inside the frame, but the external part of the frame are less exposed by the main cone of light.
    For these reasons, the cone of light fits really good a square format: we can have only a perfect match with a square format. Or circle? Surely the circle format (if it existed) would be the best, according to this theory. Maybe the fisheye can be the new most used photographic technique, but it would be a little paradox, throwing into the trash all the tradition of classical formats.

Proportions of the Rectangular Frame versus Square Format
According to the kind of proportion you have in your frame (in 35mm is 3:2). Not all frame proportions are equal in terms of composition.

Modern digital cameras can have different kinds of aspect ratio (proportions of the frame). From a composition point of view it’s easier to compose with the modern standards of 4:3 or 16:9, instead of the classic film aspect ratio, 3:2. Why? Well, for a simple reason that comes out is with landscapes, but also with portraits in which the landscape is a part of composition. In these two cases it’s really difficult to “fill” the parts of the image that is not the main subject: if you have a landscape, in particular with a 3:2 vertical frame, it’s really hard to “fill” the upper and the lower part of the image. In these cases, the result will give you a feeling of emptiness on top and on bottom of the rectangular frame.
If you try to shoot the same landscape with a 4:3 or 16:9 vertical frame, it will give you a better result, because the proportions will leave less “empty space”.

This is why many pro photographers preferred to use a medium format, with a 1:1 aspect ratio. The square format has proportion that unconsciously give you the feeling of “everything’s fine”, and (from the photographer’s point of view, the square frame is easier to fill with the different subjects he/she has in mind.

This is not a fixed rule. Is a stylistic point of view. My suggestion is to try and choose what make you feel more comfortable while shooting.

Photo by tall_bastard

Disclaimer: We spoke about philosophy, history (ancestors and birth of the project of the Lubitel 166+),tech specs. Inside all the previous article I left some little, but very important, details that will let you easily interpret the next ones. These articles are meant to be read in series, so don’t lose the opportunity to go and check the previous episodes.

Alessandro Panelli (aka yo.panic or .panic) is a Medicine and Surgery student, a photographer and a writer from Padova (Italy, near Venice). Read more about Alessandro’s work and life in his website or add him on Facebook or Google+.

written by yopanic


  1. yopanic


    Thanks to @tall_bastard for letting me publish the article with his pictures... :p Great collaboration, again... :p

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  2. tall_bastard


    again :P

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  3. stonerfairy


    Great article! Great shots too! Love all the pose!

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