Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

It’s Hip to be Square

Wolds-Tree and Storm Clouds

I’ve always liked the square format ever since I borrowed a friends old Rolleiflex 2.8F TLR back in the early nineties. Since then I have owned several square format cameras including a second-hand Rollei SL66 and a chrome Hasselblad C. I still own the Hasselblad and use it whenever the muse takes me, though I must admit that I fell in love back in 1978, when I first saw one on the cover of Elvis Costello’s ‘This Years Model’ album. Now, in the digital age, nobody makes a square format SLR, though a square digital back can still be had for the price of a small family car.

There’s something I find so precise about the square format; it sort of forces you to study your viewfinder in order to achieve the best possible composition. There is a danger of producing images that are actually too formal if you don’t take care but I find it most useful to use the square format with wide and ultra-wide lenses. So as you may have gathered, I enjoy using the square format and have employed it in many of my latest landscape and seascape images. Though it may not always be apparent, I usually spend more time deciding on the position of the post-capture crop than I do with the rest of the processing of my image. Here’s a few examples from the past couple of week that you may enjoy:-

Wolds-Wheat Field and Sky

Wolds -Tree and Barley

Abandoned chapel and tree

Of course, there are many occasions when a square format will just not suit. I tried it with this image of the Sir Tatton Sykes’ monument, but eventually settled on this rectangular crop. I encourage you to check out the wonderful rich detail in these images, so please feel free to click on them to see a larger version on my Flickr page.

Tatton Monument-Sledmere

The more astute of you may also have noticed that these images are all a rather strange colour! Yes, I used Nik software’s Silver Efex Pro to convert the colour files into black & white and then I carefully toned them to match the mood of the moment of capture. I used to do an awful lot of dark-room work in the pre-digital days and I was always very particular about the toning of my images. Most of the time, I did not wish to create a full sepia effect and I hated to see prints that had the colour of a ginger biscuit. I found that if I carefully diluted the bleach, it provided me with much greater control of the toning process and I could achieve quite subtle effects; tones that I have tried to emulate some of the images below with Photoshop.

…and then here are times when I feel that a full-blown sepia effect is warranted. Most of these photographs were taken within an hour of sunset and in the images below, I tried to match the rich warm glow of the arable fields of the Wolds.

Wolds---Cloud and Field

Wolds-Car and Clouds

Thanks for your continued support and I hope to post another blog entry soon. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of the summer and your photography.

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3 thoughts on “It’s Hip to be Square

  1. Hi Tony it’s good to see a post about the square format – thanks. Andy

  2. beautiful images!

  3. Barry Oakley on said:

    Nostalgia can be so therapeutic. Takes me back more than a bit because I used to shoot with a Rollei and a Bronica – did my own processing too. But if you know the Yorkshire Wolds these superb images take you straight there.

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