Darkroom Digest: Results From My Aspect Ratio Poll

September 25, 2016  •  3 Comments

I created two polls yesterday and asked my social media network to cast their votes.  In the fist poll, I presented two panoramic images labelled A and B (see the image to the top left of this article). I asked the voter to select their preference and share why they liked it the best.  

I then presented my network with a second image that contained four aspect ratios labelled 1,2,3,4. These images are from the more common ratio's that most people are familiar with.  

I received a tremendous response from people all over the world with varied backgrounds and knowledge of photography.  Many of the voters I know very well and some I have made friends with via social media.  In both case, I was really surprised to learn about their preferences.  

You may be asking, why go to all this trouble?  I wanted to share how important aspect ratio is with my readers and how it can significantly impact your final prints/images.  I thought it would be too boring to talk about the concept in theory, so I quickly cropped my test image into the various formats that I use on a regular basis.  

I share exclusive articles and information like this with my darkroom and large format photography newsletter subscribers.  

The image to the left of this text is from the second poll. What I didn't ask my voters on social media was of the two different polls, which image do they like best overall?  I wanted to save that question for my blog readers.  So, of the 6 choices (A,B,1,2,3,4) which is your preference and why?  Scroll down to the bottom of this article and click on the "Add comment" button and submit your final vote and tell me why you made your selection.  

THE IMPORTANCE OF ASPECT RATIO

I believe that selecting the proper aspect ratio for your scene or subject, especially in nature and landscape photography can make or break your print/image.  

I work with large format view cameras and I am primarily a contact printer so I don't have the luxury of cropping or changing my mind later.  Some people view this as a huge disadvantage, but I see it as a blessing.  It also feels fantastic and very special when I am able to fully express my creative vision in a way that resonates with my viewers.  

I use digital gear on a regular basis for scouting purposes and a variety of non-creative reasons.  I am very familiar with the full digital workflow and have many years of experience with all the most common tools (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.).  I can clearly say that I feel a much stronger sense of accomplishment and pride when I nail my print then if I had simply cropped a digital image in Photoshop. This and among other personal reasons and biases is probably why I love making large format contact prints so much.  I want to be clear that I have no issues with digital photographers that crop their images in post production, it just doesn't get my creative juices flowing.  

Even with this simple example that I have presented in this article, you can see how drastically the aspect ratio effects the viewing experience.  The most important point that I want my readers to take away from this article is that aspect ratio matters and that it helps to actively consider and think about it when you are creating your exposures.  

THE ASPECT RATIOS REVEALED

A lot of my readers are very technical and/or photographers, so I thought I better reveal the aspect ratios in the test images. The aspect ratios are as follows:  A (5x14 or 2.8), B (4x10 or 2.5), 1 (35mm or 1.5), 2 (8x10 or 1.25), 3 (5x7 or 1.4), 4 (11x14 or 1.27).  I selected these ratios because they are some of the most common sizes that I use with my large format view cameras.  I have 3 large format view cameras (4x5, 8x10, 11x14) and a variety of reducing backs (e.g, 5x7, 4x10, 6.5x8.5 (Whole Plate), 5x14).  

THE VOTES HAVE BEEN TALLIED

At the time of this article publication the results were as follows:

Poll 1 - Panoramic Aspect Ratios

A - 38%

B - 62% 

Poll 2 - Common Aspect Rations

1 - 60%

2 - 20%

3 - 10%

4 - 10%

How did the results match up to your votes?  What did you learn from this poll that you could use in your photography?  

-Tim Layton 

The Darkroom Underground is your analog photography magazine produced on a quarterly basis serving photographers, artists, collectors, and readers around the world. Publications are released on Jan 1st, Apr. 1st, July 1st, and Oct. 1st.  The Darkroom Underground publishes a balance of technical and creative articles in every issue along with featured photographers and their portfolios. We are pleased to offer editorial from internationally recognized photographers and writers and also publish articles and portfolios from our readers. 

If you like this type of article then you will probably enjoy my free darkroom newsletter and my darkroom and large format training materials (Video Workshops, Quick Reference Cards, eBooks)

Tim Layton
B&W Fine Art Analog Photography
Darkroom Underground Magazine: www.darkroomunderground.com
Darkroom & Large Format Training: www.timlaytonfineart.com/workshops
© Tim Layton Sr. | All Rights Reserved

 


Comments

Tim Layton Fine Art
Hello Terry and Earl, thanks for commenting. It was an interesting project. Stay in touch.
Earl Dunbar(non-registered)
I only answered poll number one. I learned not to trust the overall response. Actually, I already knew that. :)
Terry Farnell(non-registered)
Interesting. I wonder if the voting would change if 1 to 4 were presented in portrait format - I like 35mm aspect ratio in landscape format, but not in portrait, where I'd prefer 8x10 aspect ratio.
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