I went scouting for quality sunset compositions this evening at sunset along the river. I took my Olympus OM-D E-M5 and my Sony A7 with me thinking that I might get a chance to try a few comparison shots between my two wide angle zooms–the Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 on the E-M5 and the Canon FDn 20-35mm f/3.5L on the A7.
That didn’t work out. I had scouted the location earlier, but I found little that worked effectively in terms of composition. Or, I should say, I didn’t find a good spot fast enough. By the time I found something workable, I only had time to shoot one camera. The E-M5 was already on the tripod, so that’s what I shot with.
All the compositional elements I saw in my mind while readying my shot just fell perfectly into place with the square 1:1 ratio.
But even then, in the moment of shooting, I didn’t like what I saw. I had a layered composition across the plane from the foreground to the background. Good. And I had a solid horizon that I placed fairly high up in the frame. The lines where where I wanted them, but the rest of image totally unbalanced. It just totally failed. When I got home and started sitting in front of my computer, I tried to rescue something from the images. Still unbalanced. The Olympus has a native 4:3 aspect ratio. So said to my self, maybe try 4:5. That might work better. And it did. Slightly. But it still wasn’t enough. So I tried something that I’m not sure I’ve tried before. I cropped to 1:1. And it works. It worked well. All the compositional elements I saw in my mind while readying my shot just fell perfectly into place with the square 1:1 ratio.
It’s a good first try for a new location. I’ll be needing to go back for another few sunsets to refine my vision of what wanted to see. But in the meantime, here are the two images that I came back with. At the the 9mm end (18mm-e), square is simply perfect. But at the 18mm end (36mm-e), 5:4 works really well. But in both cases, the native ratio of 4:3 is simply too wide–and that’s really unusual. I’m not sure I’ve ever had that happen to me before.