The Tuesday Composition: New Perspectives

Aphid and Desert Sunflower. A ground up, rather than eye-level, perspective, was an essential part of making this image pop. © Joe Decker

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

The week before last we talked about moving: about what a difference moving a foot to the left or right, forward or back can make in a composition. Today we’ll continue along that theme, talking about what a difference moving higher or lower can make.

We often photograph from “eye-level.” It’s a fairly natural tendency, if we make photographs after seeing things that move us, we’ll typically end up finding compositions at eye level. This is a good choice for point of view, photographing from “eye level” often produces images that read very naturally to the viewer.

But “eye level” isn’t always your best choice. (more…)

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Additional Perspective on Tilt-Shift lenses

A Problem of Perspective
A Problem of Perspective. Notice that the posts nearest the left and right edges of the image do not appear vertical.

In my previous article on tilt-shift lenses I talked about tilt and how that affects the plane of focus.  It is a pretty great feature, and it is (I believe) behind the increased energy we’re seeing in the press and from camera manufacturers about these lenses. But it’s far from the only trick these little wonders can perform, today we’ll talk about the most basic use of  shift (including what the large format guys would call rise and fall), to correct perspective in a photograph.

Perspective control using shift has been a staple of architectural photography for decades. When photographing a building from ground level, perspective causes the top of the building (which is farther from the camera) to show smaller in the image than the bottom. In seeing the real world around us this effect appears quite natural, but in a photograph the effect often makes the building appear as if it were falling over backwards. What we need for the image to “appear” more natural is a way to reduce the perspective-induced distortion of the shape of the building. (more…)

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The Tuesday Composition: Leading Lines, Perspective

Distant Thunder, Petrified Forest National Park.  (Image made during NPS artist residency at Petrified Forest.)
Distant Thunder, Petrified Forest National Park. (Image made during NPS artist residency at Petrified Forest.)

If you like this article, you can now get the book! Joe has expanded the “Tuesday Composition” series into an inspiring new ebook on composition, especially for nature photography. Check it out: The Tuesday Composition.

Last week I talked about S-curves, today I’m going to talk about the related and more general idea of leading lines. Leading lines are one or more lines in an image, typically diagonal lines usually coming up from around the bottom corners of an image. In particularly lines such as those formed by streams, railway tracks, roads, or geology along the ground. S-curves are a type of leading line, but here I’ll be contrasting them with lines that are typically straight or more simply curved.

Many of the things we said about S-curves apply equally well here, the lines seem to draw the viewer into the image, bottom towards the top. Similarly, I find that images that bring at least one of these lines from the lower-left are a bit more likely to work better for me, again probably related to the idea that the way we perceive images may be influenced in part by reading direction. (more…)

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