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Moving Your Feet is Where to Begin…A Different Perspective in Your Photography
Photography, its all a matter of perspective. Watch 95% of non-photographers taking a photo and one thing you will observe is that they rarely move. They will stand rooted to the spot, lift the camera and press the shutter. And what are their pictures like…?
On the other hand, watch a seasoned photographer taking the same shot and you will see him or her moving almost continuously. They will crouch, stretch on tiptoe, shuffle left and right. They might even change lenses several times.
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What they are doing is experimenting with perspective. A slight change in perspective can elevate the mundane to the sublime. Using it and understanding it in your photography is what raises you above the average snapper.
So What is Perspective in Photography?
In photography, Perspective is defined as:
The spatial relationship between objects within an image. It is what makes a two-dimensional photograph have a three-dimensional feel.
It is why leading lines, frames within images, shallow depth of field and many other compositional techniques work.
Before we go too far with perspective let’s lay one often misquoted myth to bed. Changing focal length does not change perspective. It changes field of view.
However, if you move your position having changed focal length you will have changed perspective.
Using perspective in photography is about us trying to define the way an image looks by finding a way to make the spatial relationship between objects in our shot, look good. So how can we do that?
Firstly, we need to think in three dimensions – vertically, horizontally and forward & backward.
Move Horizontally to Change Perspective
Perhaps the easiest way to change perspective in an image is to move left or right.
Sometimes a movement of just a few centimeters can radically change the way a composition works. Perhaps an archway starts to frame the shot, maybe the lines in the pavement lead the eye to the subject.
Look at any experienced photographer and you will see them constantly making minor adjustments to the position. This might be by shuffling left or right a touch or it might be enough just to lean their body.
Moving left or right can reveal surfaces in our subjects. This surfaces will have varying levels of light and shade adding dimensions to the shot.
Don't Forget to Move Forward or Backward too
It’s not always as easy to move forward or backward, sometimes we can be constrained by natural or manmade obstacles. However, rather than changing your lens, if you can, move in or away from your subject.
This will give you a different perspective in your photography.
A good example of this might be to move closer and use a wide angle lens. You can then use something very close as a framing device or leading line to a subject in the distance. The perspective will make the distant subject appear a long way away.
Doing this in reverse, we might step back and change to a telephoto lens. We could then shot a subject that is relatively close and by using a wide aperture, throw the background out of focus.
That blurred background would appear to be close to the subject, the opposite effect of using a wide lens and moving closer.
Going Vertical with Your Perspective
Another great way to change your perspective is to get low or high. Because so many images are taken at eye level, changing your height can dramatically alter the perspective of a shot.
By getting low, we can extend the foreground, making use of leading lines that can lead our eye through the picture, out to the subject and onto the horizon beyond.
We can also shoot big dramatic skies and eliminate much of the foreground. Although the height might only be one meter lower, the change in perspective can be dramatic.
By going high we can change the everyday into something more interesting. We can shoot down and isolate a single subject without a horizon.
This can give us beautifully simple images breaking the shot down into just subject, background, light and shade.
Cityscapes and landscapes can look very different with an elevated point of view.
It's a view most people do not get to see and so can add dynamism to your shots. You can get an elevated view by climbing hills or buildings or even by using a drone. Just the simple act of raising the camera above your head can make a significant difference to your compositions.
Understanding perspective and how to control it is a vital part of our photographic education. It opens the doors to many other techniques and forms of composition, for example, shallow depth of field, leading lines and internal framing. It is also very easy to experiment with, simple move left, right forwards or backward to get instant results.
A Different Perspective in Your Photography – Top Takeaways
- Experiment with perspective – moving your feet, just slightly, will alter your images enough to look hugely different.
- Lean in, step back or just move closer – alternate your lenses too if you have a wide lens and a telephoto.
- Crouch low or climb a hill, each of these ideas will add some seriously great dimensions to your photos
- Rise of the Drones: How Drone Photography is Affecting the Future of Our Craft by Jason Row
- How to Get Better Landscape Photographs By Controlling Perspective by Dzvonko Petrovski
- These Ideas on Perspective Will Improve Your Photography Composition by Jason D. Little
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