Square landscapes with the X-T1

I first fell in love with square photos after a week in the Lake District, when I used a Mamiya C330 to try and get the hang of “proper” landscape photography for the first time. It took me a little while to get the hang of the unfamiliar format, but once I had, I took to the 6”x6” format like a duck to water. The square format allowed me to harness the vast views in front of me and direct the camera more precisely than with a rectangular view.

Back from the trip away, I returned the camera to its owner and bought myself a much less expensive Lubitel camera. Firstly, to take shots in Paris whilst on holiday with a friend and much later, to capture scenes here in Switzerland. Once in Switzerland, I managed to find a gorgeous 55-year-old Yashica-Mat in working condition: I used it for several years (before it broke).

Yashica-Mat

I often crop my digital photos square in post-processing. Although this produces good results, the ability to actually see and compose the scene in square format takes me back to the days before computers, when walking the landscape with a square-format camera was the highlight of my time off work. It leads me to compose a scene in a slightly different way, placing great emphasis on finding exactly the right angle instead of taking a more general view and then cropping it later. It makes me feel, somehow, like a “proper” landscape photographer.

Although my favourite way of photographing scenes in this way is with my Yashica-Mat, the expense and time-consuming process of photographing using film and re-touching the resultant scans means that I rarely do so. My X-T1, however, has a few digital features which allow me to simulate the tonal effects of film types: for example, Fuji’s own Velvia. (I’ll write more about this soon.)

In addition to these colour settings, the X-T1 can also crop the image in-camera.

By setting the image capture mode to RAW+JPG (either fine or normal), you can select the crop mode 1:1 (or square). This tells the camera to not just trim the resultant image, but also adjust the viewfinder to show a square preview. The JPG files generated by the camera are square, and the RAW file contains embedded crop settings.

Lightroom users will be pleased to know that the crop mode is read out of the RAW file when importing the photos, so there’s no need to re-crop on the computer. It would be good if one could shoot a cropped square image without the additional JPG, which slows the camera down a little and takes up more space, but it looks as though this is currently not possible.

Weissenau-Neuhaus, Interlaken, Switzerland

Weissenau-Neuhaus, Interlaken, Switzerland