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03-18-2009, 03:50 PM   #1
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Group shots. What decides the photo dimensions?

for example,

Its almost a box but i find it has more impact then current 4:3 or 16:9

how do you know which photo dimension would be best for your shots?

**On the photo itself, doesnt look completely black and white so i am guessing either the shot was taken truly with the antique camera and happened to have the filters to pull it off or taken digitally and then re-mastered to give the effect. does anyone know how it is done using either filters or software? thanks.

03-18-2009, 05:05 PM   #2
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This was just recently shot for the Watchmen, so it's almost certainly a digital file that has been manipulated to look like something from the '40s.

As for the aspect ratio, it's usually whatever camera the photographer decided to use. I've seen large group shots that were shot panorama that are 10:1.
03-18-2009, 08:58 PM   #3
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With film you were stuck with whatever format your film camera used. You could change things in the darkroom with cropping if you wanted and later with scissors. While I try to compose the best I can with the camera, I will sometimes crop to whatever size I think looks better. With digital this is real easy. I'm sure there is some kind of rule being broken but if I think my picture looks better shaped like a bowling pin, why not? My first camera was a twin lens Kodak that took square pictures on 620 film. 35mm is rectangular. Then we buy frames to display them with the matte cut in circles, ovals or whatever we think looks best. I don't think a photo has to remain in the same shape as it was shot.
03-18-2009, 09:21 PM   #4
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Not sure but square or a variant of 2 1/4 was the pop format in the 40's so in this case being "Era" correct determined the dimensions?

03-19-2009, 08:21 AM   #5
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As Dave mentioned it is pretty much up to the photographer. Keep in mind the output of the image if the customer is wanting a specific size, say 8x10. You want to leave some space in your frame so you dont cut people off on the ends. Good Luck with your group shots.
03-19-2009, 08:38 AM   #6
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The photographer decides, but if he's a smart photographer he'll stick with the common 4:5 aspect ratio so that his prints won't have to be custom sized and will fit into common frame sizes.
Group shots are not fun shots for the photographer, they are record shot for the subjects.
03-19-2009, 08:38 AM   #7
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I crop any way I want unless I'm doing work for somebody and they want it all in 4x6, 4x5, 8x10 or whatever.

(edit: it does make it a pain to get frames, but custom ones from Light Impressions aren't too expensive and pretty good)
03-19-2009, 05:48 PM   #8
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There are two kinds of "dimensions". First, there are the dimensions of the capture medium - the sensor, or the film or whatever it is. And then there are the dimensions of the output - the print or the edited jpeg that you post on the web or send in an email. I put "dimensions" here in quotation marks because the word can be used in a different way to mean actual physical size. But right now I'm interested in "dimensions" in the sense of aspect ratio.

The capture dimension is usually not negotiable. There are some cameras that let you switch aspect ratios, but as far as I can tell, that's just a way of cropping at the time of capture. Generally, you're going to capture the photo at the aspect ratio of your camera's sensor.

Now, what happens when you are ready to produce some output - to print or save the file as a jpeg for viewing? If you're printing, there are many common print sizes and they have different aspect ratios. 4"x6" is perfect for an uncropped image from a Pentax K10D/K20D - ditto 2x3 or 8x12. But many people want 3x5 prints, others want 5x7. And 3x5, 4x6, 5x7 and 8x10 are all different aspect ratios, in other words, a crop that fits one perfectly won't work for the others. And sometimes, a non-standard crop is what you want. I crop to 1x2 a lot especially when I'm shooting landscapes.

You have to think about this while you're shooting. If you are shooting only for yourself, and if you don't care about printing or you plan to print with custom paper sizes (and use custom frames) OR if you know that you're going to print to 4"x6" or 8"x12", then you can frame the photo very carefully in the camera's finder. Remember, the finder doesn't actually show you 100% of the capture dimensions so you get a tiny bit more than you see - but it's a tiny bit only so you can indeed frame accurately.

On the other hand, if you're taking photos that others are going to want to print and you can't really know in advance what size they're going to want, then you really should frame the photo during capture in such a way that you capture some "spare" space around the central image. If you shoot a portrait in which the subject perfectly fits the capture frame, well, your client will NOT easily be able to order an 8x10 print, because that would involve cropping off something and you don't have anything you can afford to cut off.

I've been thinking about this problem for years and it's something that has never gotten intuitive for me: I either have to stop and think about it consciously, or I have to play the percentages and shoot a bit wide so I can crop later.


03-20-2009, 04:25 AM   #9
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Many moons ago I was offered an 8x20 inch viewcam, used for group shots for many many years. I was sorely tempted... but my 5x8 foot darkroom (a mop closet) was already packed solid. So I continued shooting groups with a Yashicamat loaded with Verichrome Pan or maybe something slower, and cropped out the top 1/2 or 2/3 whilst enlarging. I bought my paper in rolls from Freestyle, so the prints could be as long as necessary, even if it meant taping the paper to the floor to get enough distance from the enlarger head. Ah, them was the days...

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