How to transform your landscapes with square format

Torii, Japan. black and white minimal square format landscape
Torii, Japan. 10 secs at f/11, ISO 100

Jonathan’s leading 3 tips for square format landscapes:
Crop your existing pictures square to see if you like it and to find out what works.
If your camera has an in-camera square format function, set it up.
Shoot wider than you typically would to allow you to crop in square.

Jonathan Chritchley is fortunate enough to live in the remarkable warm environment of the South of France, nevertheless he was born in the UK in the sprawling metropolitan suburbs of Wimbledon in London. At the age of 14 Jonathan transferred to a small sailing town called Lymington on the south coast of England and it was here the professional photographer became fascinated by the water. ‘The water has actually always been really close,’ he states. ‘The sea is extremely crucial to me.’

Jonathan does not tie himself to one genre of photography, and his work crosses from seascapes, to wildlife ( primarily horses) and sailing boats. The majority of his images nevertheless are unified by the water, a black & white surface and a square image crop. Shooting in square is something Jonathan feels comfortable with as he originates from a movie background. ‘I used to work with a Hasselblad 6 × 6 square format film,’ he states. ‘Once I entered digital I was using a 35mm format however it didn’t quite feel right.’
black and white stormy scene square format landscape
Gathering Storm, France. 25 secs at f/18, ISO 100

Jonathan continues to explain that at first the perfectionist in him seemed like it would be fake and dishonest to mess around with the aspect ratio of his images. After struggling for a while Jonathan listened to his gut and began to crop his digital images to square. ‘ As a photographer you need to follow your choices and those strong feelings of what you personally like into your photography.’

Jonathan takes his square format images on his Nikon D850 and for the time being he is really happy with his set-up. ‘I’m not actually thinking about going mirrorless at the moment,’ he states. ‘I like big, heavy cameras.’ For Jonathan when he’s precariously basing on a moving boat or trying to constant himself as he tracks a moving horse he finds having a heavy electronic camera body balances him.
ice moon greenland square format landscape
Ice Moon, Disko Bay, Greenland. 1/640 sec at f/13, ISO 100

‘ It weighs me down in a good way,’ he states. Jonathan states he has 3 Nikon electronic camera bodies and they get a great smashing about. ‘They’re bulletproof!’ he jokes. As for lenses Jonathan has a variety of Zeiss and Nikon brand names in his collection. ‘I always carry with me the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. It’s wonderful– I like it.’ He discovers this lens particularly helpful for shooting moving matter such as sailing boats and horses. Jonathan also highlights his set Zeiss Distagon 21mm F2.8 from his collection for taking his seascapes. ‘It’s quite old now,’ he states, ‘however it’s still brilliant.’

If you’re interested in shooting square format images yourself Jonathan leaves our interview with some fantastic guidance. ‘Start by cropping your existing images square and discover from that,’ he counsels.
lone cypress
Lone Cypress, California. 30 secs at f/11, ISO 100

For those with cams that can not shoot square Jonathan advises to frame your structures larger. ‘Some individuals like to compose in picture format, and chop off the top and bottom of the image, and some like to make up in a landscape orientation, which is what I tend to do.


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