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Don’t Be Limited By The Shape Of Your Camera

Lesson 13 from: Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

Don’t Be Limited By The Shape Of Your Camera

Lesson 13 from: Mastering the Art of Photography

Chris Weston

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Lesson Info

13. Don’t Be Limited By The Shape Of Your Camera

We rarely give much thought to the shape of the camera sensor and yet it defines the image space. Investigating some of his favorite photographs, Chris shows how thinking “outside the rectangular box” can have a huge impact on the visual quality of photographs
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Class Trailer

Class Introduction - Three Steps To Creative Photography


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 1: The Camera Points Both Ways


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 2: Letting Go Of Judgement


Firing The Creative Mind - Part 3: Detaching From Outcomes


Practicing Mindfulness In Photography


Finding The Visual Narrative


Behind-the-scenes: Naples


Seeing Beneath The Surface Of Things


Lesson Info

Don’t Be Limited By The Shape Of Your Camera

Have you ever paid much attention to the shape of your camera's sensor or the viewfinder, or even the viewing screen on the back here? Probably not too much, and it's quite normal to accept it for what it is. After all, we can't change it. Or can we? The aspect ratio of the sensor influences how we compose an image, because on the face of it, it defines the image space pretty much every DSLR or mirror less camera today, with very few exceptions by default, uses an aspect ratio of 3 to 2, which essentially means the longest edge is 1.5 times longer than the smaller one now, because that's the shape were given out of, the box is typically the shape we stick to. It's also a format that works particularly well with compositional guidelines like the rule of thirds. But sticking to it rigidly limits compositional choice. I've noticed, for example, how often I'm recommending a square crop when reviewing images posted on this course is Facebook Group. So just as a painter can decide between ca...

nvases or sketchbooks of different shapes and sizes, so can you. Most modern digital cameras have what's called a crop mode, which lets you change between different aspect ratios to suit different compositions. And if your camera doesn't well, don't worry. You just have to think in different shapes and crop later. My point is, a squat rectangle might not be the ideal shape for the best composition, so let's look at the most popular alternatives. And since I've already mentioned square crops, let's start there. When I first took up photography to complement my SLR camera, I bought myself one of these. The in 1 66 meant the film frame was six by six centimeters, making the aspect ratio 1 to 1. In other words, it was square square. Framing is particularly suited to portrait photography, and I use it a lot for portraits of wildlife. And that's because in a portrait where the object is to emphasize the eyes, the facial features and the expressions, the subject is often best position center frame, which draws the eye in and holds attention on the subject. Visually de emphasizing any distracting visual information around the edges, a square format may also compositionally lift more abstract scenes. In this example, the original rectangle includes information that's not particularly relevant to the story, which is the abstractions of line, shape and pattern. If I crop to a square, which was my intention when I made the shot, the image becomes graphically, more powerful. The shape of the chandelier becomes visually boulder because it's contained within a square box, and the lines are more in your face because they aren't competing with unrelated visual distractions. Now a favorite ratio of mine is the much wider what would be called panoramic format. A panoramic framing has the opposite effect to a square where a square frame draws the eye into the center and holds it there. The panoramic format widens the area of attention, which encourages exploration and opens up the possibility of discovery. It's a format I've specialist in for wildlife photography when I want to place an animal in its environment and create a deep sense of place. This image is a lovely example. At the time, I was drawn to the vibrancy of the colors, the fallen moss covered trees and the almost chaotic state of the land as a juxtaposition to the lazy, non silence of the bear. Even though the bear is sent to frame, drawing your eye towards it. The sheer width of the frame forces you to visually explore the area around it. By comparison, if I show you what this image would have looked like with a standard framing, you can see how the image would have been far more mundane a snapshot rather than the immersive visual experience you gain with a panoramic view. Don't be constrained by the shape of your sensor. How you shape your compositions is your choice, and what you decide will have a big impact on how you communicate your visual story. In the days of film, I had cameras of all shapes and sizes, square panoramic, large format oblong as well as my workhorse 35 mil cameras. Fortunately, today's digital cameras enable you to cover pretty much any aspect with one body, so it's easier now to play an experiment with different framing options at the press of a button. And I encourage you to do that experiment. Set up your camera to a square crop setting, take it out for the day and see how you get on. Think about the usual compositional rules, like the rule of thirds or center positioning and shoot all sorts of subjects. Whatever you happen to come across that grabs your attention. If your camera doesn't have a crop mode in the menu, just imagine if you find a square and crop later, you'll be amazed at how powerful this simple change can sometimes prove to be, so go play.

Ratings and Reviews

Gary Hook

Wow, what a wonderful journey. I love the concept of telling a story with one's photos and as I go through past images, I'm seeing them in a much different perspective. That's the good news, The bad? The lost opportunities I never 'saw' before; however that is a good thing. There is so much to internalize with the material so that it can get out of the head and into the 'heart'. I also found the concept really helps me with composition, both in camera and post. Biggest take away, as Chris underscored in his closing, is to slooooow down, take the time and feel it. Don't be so quick to leave one scene as there remain other aspects, yet to be discovered. A great experience that I truly enjoyed Thank you


I loved this course - in particular the latter part of it in which he demonstrated how post processing lets you really tell the story of the image. Another fabulous course. Thanks Chris & thanks Creative Live.

Abdullah Alahmari

Thanks a lot to mr. Chris Weston This course is great and It is a 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 course for me. Beside the other course ( mastering photographic composition and visual storytelling) both courses are Complementing to each other and highly recommended.

Student Work