My KAGE colleague Jonas Rask posted about his Hasselblad X-Pan experimentations over the weekend (beautiful shots if you have a few minutes). It’s interesting how panoramic formats immediately feel cinematic, because it’s really nothing more than a cultural by-product: we’ve simply been conditioned to associate those thinner/wider ratios with moviemaking. Years ago—before HD—we’d add black bars to SD video content to make the content feel “bigger”...by actually making it smaller. Chalk this one up to the ever-fascinating psychology of visual storytelling.
The X-series have long included a 16:9 aspect ratio but I’ve rarely used it, mostly out of an ingrained reflex to conserve as many pixels as possible. When your images are going out to clients, the job is to provide the highest quality possible and technically, this includes resolution. In French we call this déformation professionnelle. It’s the reason why I’ve always focused on composition in-camera as opposed to dramatic cropping in post. This mindset has carried over to the way I shoot with the GFX 50S, even though the resolution argument all but flies out the window. Between the lenses’ resolving power, the camera’s sensor and the size of the files themselves, there’s really no reason not to experiment with different aspect ratios. At this point I’m like the people who lived through the depression and spent their lives in fear of spending money.
I still believe in the importance of framing in the field, because this speaks to our ability to see in the moment. That reflex is our foundation. But learning to compose an image with other aspect ratios really only expands on that concept. The weekend pictures below use a 65:24 ratio—one amongst an expanded set of options available on Fuji’s medium-format camera—and the resolution is still a tad higher than my X-Pro2. Part of me still cringes at “throwing away” pixels...but boy, I think I need to lighten up.
More tools, more possibilities...
P.S All images (except #4 below) were shot at ISO 6400.