When you stand on a country road and look down the length of it, the road appears to narrow. If it’s lined with a fenced-in pasture, the fence posts appear smaller the farther away from you they are. We live in a three dimensional world but, our photos are two dimensional. When composing a photo with perspective in mind you can use it to give the picture depth beyond what you can achieve with aperture settings. You can utilize objects in the scene to give the viewer a sense of scale, or, you can position your camera where you distort the sense of scale dramatically.
It wasn’t too long ago I’d get upset when trying to compose a shot of a tourist trap, like the castle walls here in Okinawa and some tourists would arrive on the scene. I’d have to wait for them to depart so I could get my shot of what I wanted, a castle and nothing else.
Nowadays, I shoot both ways, with and without tourists in the scenes because I know they add a scale to my photos. When they’re really cooperative and sign a release for me to publish their picture, as these girls visiting Zakimi Castle were, they get free copies of the shot sent to them. And you or anyone else can probably guess how tall the castle walls are or determine if you’d have to duck your head walking through the archway.
In the photo of the Shisa (Lion-dog) with a 10 story hotel in the background, I used perspective for a more dramatic effect. By moving my position, relative to the hotel, around until I saw what I wanted in the viewfinder, I was able to make the Shisa appear to dwarf the hotel. The statue is probably around twenty feet tall. Both photos were taken with an aperture setting of f/11. Had I desired to blur the background and make the hotel seem farther away or less prominent in the photo, I’d have used a setting such as f/2.8 or f/3.5 and probably would have except I wanted Japanese to be able to read Royal Hotel to the top of the building just in case they want to visit the largest Shisa in Okinawa.
Imagine what kind of shot you could create with a pizza pie at the Leaning Tower of Pizza. All you need is a little imagination, a plane ticket, your camera, tripod and some perspective. Until next time, Happy Shooting!
A wildlife photographer living in Okinawa, Japan, Mike has been published in Apogee Photo Magazine, Boots N all, Brave New Traveler, Go Nomad, Matador Abroad and Trips, The Nihon Sun, Travel Thru History, The Okinawan , Wend Magazine and Photo Guide Japan. He has recently joined the ranks of travel writers, capturing Nature, Festivals, Castles and Cultural shots of the Ryukyu Islands to share with the world.