Week 5: Composition – Perspective, Depth, and Scale.

Tweet In this week’s video, I continue to talk about composition, specifically in regards to perspective, visual depth, and scale. Hopefully, you now have a handle on balance, dominance, and simplicity from the last couple of weeks because you still need to take all of those things into account when applying this week’s tip. In […]

In this week’s video, I continue to talk about composition, specifically in regards to perspective, visual depth, and scale. Hopefully, you now have a handle on balance, dominance, and simplicity from the last couple of weeks because you still need to take all of those things into account when applying this week’s tip.

A wide angle perspective is great for creating a sense of place that involves the viewer.

In the video, I talk about perspective in relation to lens choice. Wide angle shots like above are great for big landscape scenes where you want to create a sense of place. The large depth of field inherent in wide angle lenses keeps most of the frame in focus, like we see with our eyes, and by anchoring the scene with a strong foreground element that gives way to an interesting middle ground and background, the viewer feels like they were with you when you took the shot. This also has the effect of giving more visual depth to the scene. I bet you can imagine you were sitting next to me in the above shot, able to reach out and grab that fern. This shot also incorporates the rule of thirds to create an asymmetrical balance and I kept things simple enough so that the photo is easy to understand.

 

Telephoto lenses are great for picking out strong graphical elements like the repeating ridge lines in this photo.

When you use telephoto lenses, the viewer is less involved with the scene, but these longer focal lengths are very good for picking out strong lines and shapes in a scene that can make for compelling subject matter. Longer lenses create a compressed perspective, where everything in the photo seems closer together than they are in real life. This can be useful for creating drama in a scene like in the above shot. These mountains look more rugged than they would with a wider focal length, where the ridges would seem more spread out and smaller.

By including the hikers in this photo, I gave scale to the landscape.

Sometimes it’s obvious in a photo how big or small something is, and sometimes it doesn’t really matter. When it does matter, include an object (or person or animal) of known size to give scale to your subject. Giving scale to your subject is both a technical pursuit and a creative one. The hikers in the above photo help the viewer understand the size of the landscape, but by making them small in the scene, I’m also making a statement about how small we all are in relation to the natural world.

Here’s your assignment for the week:

1) Watch the video to learn how lens choice and perspective effects the way a viewer interacts with your photos, and study the ways to create visual depth and scale in your photos.

2) Get out and shoot. Play with a wide angle lens to create visual depth in your photos and alternatively, use a telephoto lens to pick out interesting shapes, lines, and light in the scene. Lastly, experiment with using subject matter that implies scale.

3) Post your photos to our on-line Flickr Group before Wednesday, March 21st.

On Thursday, March 22nd, I’ll select one photo to critique and mail a copy of The AMC Guide to Outdoor Digital Photography to the photographer.

On a side note,  if you’re thinking of signing up for my April 20-22 Cape Cod workshop, please note that the hotel is only holding rooms for our group until March 20th. Also, the early-bird deadline for my May 18-20 Vermont workshop is March 18th. Sign up before then o save $50.00.

Thanks for watching, and have fun!

-Jerry

5 Responses to “Week 5: Composition – Perspective, Depth, and Scale.”

  1. David Pinkhnam says:

    Just bought LR 4. Can’t wait to try it out once I get it.

  2. David – let me know how you Lightroom 4. I’m liking it, though at times it’s a little sluggish for some reason.

  3. Marlo says:

    Finally — I understand it! Thanks for explaining the differences between using the telephoto lens versus the wide angle. You teach well. I’m looking forward to getting out this weekend and playing with the camera with my new understanding.

  4. You’re welcome Marlo – I’m glad what I said clicked! Have fun out there!

  5. […] featured this photo, “First Light On The Auto Road,” for the image critique for the Week 5 Composition – Perspective, Depth, and Scale assignment. To have someone at his level in the “photography game” take notice and have, what I […]

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