Take a look at these six hummingbird photographs. Do you notice anything unique about them?
They are all cropped to the 1:1 or square aspect ratio. For some reason hummingbirds just look good in squares. There are some aesthetic reasons why I crop the hummingbird so frequently to the square aspect ratio and most of them relate to the environment in which I shoot. This diagram illustrates some of the issues.
- The feeder I use to attract the hummingbirds near my camera is almost always in frame. When the hummingbird does its dip-retreat-hover act, it rarely gets far enough from the feeder to exclude it from the lens’ field of view.
- Cropping off the feeder means the hummingbird is invariably staring at the nearest edge of the image. That means empty space behind the bird that looks awkward. In keeping with the Rule of Space, I want my hummingbird to look into rather than out of my image.
- I am often rotating my images to improve the “attack posture” of the bird. The square crop allows me to do this with less image loss than a rectangular crop.
- Hummingbirds just fit the square so nicely. They are essentially hovering little “+” symbols. Sometimes they are a “t” or an “f” but they are always about as wide as they are tall. The combination of their body shape and posture creates a figure that begs for square space.
- Feeder-attracted hummingbirds often don’t have other compositional elements in the frame.
Think about the space your subject occupies and it will lead you towards an aspect ratio. It seems odd but hummingbirds are kind of square from a space perspective.
The 6 Hummingbird photos at the article’s beginning are currently for sale in 8×8 inch signed prints. Go to the Fleeting Glimpse Hummingbird Gallery to purchase your copy today.
Rikk Flohr © 2010