Go Ahead, Be a Square

We are all taught in art school or photography classes about portrait and landscape formats and the appropriate uses of them. Today, I want to demonstrate the power of the square! If done right, presenting an image in a square format can make a bold statement. There is something kind of hip about ignoring rules and putting something out there that looks a little different from the rest. With that in mind, there are a few things you want to look out for to avoid making your image look less like a statement and more like a mistake!


As in other formats, you want to remember some basic rules of good composition. Think thirds and avoid dividing the picture in half will keep the image dynamic(if this is your intent). Try not to pull the eye out of the picture by cropping lines or high contrast objects out of the frame.


In this example, there are lines leading away from the subject matter, but they are minimized by the use of value. The brightest and highest contrast is on the Slug shaped fallen tree.


Another great way to use this format is by creating an abstract image. Use pattern, shape and rhythm to make images that resemble abstract paintings.

Rothko Day

I titled this one “Rothko Day” after the famous painter. There are three major bands going across this picture with enough detail to retain a natural element, but remain abstract.

Keep It Moving:

To counter the stagnant nature of the square, choose a photograph that conveys motion.


The lively nature of this small waterfall keeps the square format lively and visually compelling!

Thanks for reading. Please follow my blog for further articles with examples. Contact me with any questions or comments.

Happy Shooting!

Shawn Pagels


Keep Something Upfront-tips for shooting wide


When shooting wide angle landscapes or waterscapes, take advantage of the focal range by placing something of interest in the foreground. Even if the foreground has an interesting texture, it will lend to the composition and increase the sense of depth in your photograph. The light was very nice the day I took this shot. Since I shot in early spring, color wasn’t giving me much to work with, so I stuck a nd 4 and a polarizing filter on my Tokina 11-16 to allow for darker skies and a longer exposure to smooth the water a bit. Happy shooting!




Wide and Exposed

SanJuan BeaconWeb

With all the latest and greatest camera gizmos and technology being waved under our noses, it’s easy to be lead astray from the basics in photography that make great pictures great. Good technique and smart planning are far more valuable than keeping up with the hot new cameras. In this photo, I used my trusty Nikon d7000, an old tripod and some inexpensive nd filters and polarizer to achieve this moody shot at San Juan Island, Wa. The exposure was 1.4, and I had my aperture down at about 19.

With the benefit of digital, I was able to check to make sure the subject was in acceptable focus so that I could also keep the foreground in focus. As a landscape photographer I had to come to terms with the need for a wide angle lens. After researching my options, I found a Tokina 11-16, F2.8. This lens is amazing, which I will cover in another blog. Sharp and fast. Have never had a bad shot with this one! Thanks for reading my first photography blog! -Shawn Pagels