Point of View

Perspective refers to the relationship of objects within an image. This includes their relative position and sizes and the space between them. In photography, perspective is another illusion you use to produce photographs of quality composition.

There are a number of ways that we can create the appearance of perspective in a composition, here a few of the more common forms of perspective:

  • Overlap Perspective    An object that partially obscures another in the frame is clearly closer to the viewer than the object being blocked. This is clearly true regardless of the size of the objects involved.
  • Dwindling Size Perspective    Two objects that appear similar, except for size, are assumed to be at different distances in proportion to their size. For example, if we focus on a fence that is receding into the distance, the fence posts nearest us will appear larger than those further away.
  • Vanishing Point Perspective — Parallel lines that move away from us appear to converge at the horizon in the classic “vanishing point” phenomenon. Railroad tracks seem to merge together at extreme distance as do the sides of roads or rivers.
  • Atmospheric Perspective -Any fog, dust and other impurities will make objects further away appear somewhat hazy and lacking in contrast.
  • Linear Perspective — The human eye judges distance by the way elements within a scene diminish in size, and the angle at which lines and planes converge. This is called linear perspective.
  • Rectilinear Perspective — Most lenses produce rectilinear perspective that is typical of what the human eye sees. This is to say that lines that are straight in the subject are reproduced straight in the picture. Most pictures are made with rectilinear lenses.
  • Height Perspective — The place where the base of an object is located on the ground in a picture is a clue to its distance from the camera viewpoint; for example, in a landscape scene, the ground or ground plane rises toward the horizon. The higher up in the ground area of the picture (up to the horizon) that the base of an object is located, the further away it seems from the viewpoint and the greater its height perspective.

Things to ask yourself when critiquing an image:

  • Does the perspective help with the spatial relations of the subject and the other elements in the image?
  • Would changing the perspective make the image stronger?
  • Does the perspective distort the subject? If so, does it work?
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