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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

On Landscape: A Sense Of Scale


Be versatile, and you can build perspective into your landscape images

On Landscape: A Sense Of Scale

One key compositional technique in landscape photography is the use of scale. By including foreground subjects such as rocks or trees or flowers in front of mountains, for example, the photographer can convey depth in the scene, giving a stronger sense of the locale and of "being there." In many uses for photographs, such as editorial use, it’s important to clearly describe the subject. Objects of known size give us clues as to the scale and depth.

A sense of scale in an image can be affected in several ways. One way re-lates to how we arrange objects with-in the frame, such as the foreground/background example above. Another method of conveying scale is the choice of lens. If you use a telephoto lens to photograph a range of mountains, they look taller. Put on a wide-angle lens for the same scene, and the mountains shrink in scale.

On Landscape: A Sense Of ScaleIn photograph #1 shown here, a lone pine tree is used as a compositional element in the foreground to balance with Half Dome in the background. Its position on the edge of a cliff gives a sense of the precarious locale. Clouds fill the river canyon below, out of which Half Dome rises beyond. The tree and granite edge of the foreground cliff provide a sense of scale and depth to the photograph.The foreground elements are important to its success.

Contrasting large and small objects is still another technique to convey scale. An example of this might be placing a small sapling tree next to a full-sized giant sequoia as shown in image #2. Even without showing the whole larger tree, the massive difference in size is implied. When composing elements within the camera frame, keep in mind the idea of contrasting these elements so that the difference is clear without too many distractions.

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