More On Point Of View

I wrote a couple of random thoughts yesterday regarding point of view. Specifically the merits of exploring as many as you can think of with any given subject. I really didn't provide any sort of visual example or reference just some thoughts. As I was going through the same old images I shot almost two months ago I ran across a few that provides a bit of an example and some additional food for thought.

When I posted that last example-free bit I am sure that most of you conjured up wildly varying points of view in your head. Great - that's pretty much how I intended it - a 360 degree by 360 degree exploration. Wild variation in point of view is not the only thing I was referring to though. As with most things related to making or processing photographs a tiny little bit can have momentous visual effect. Something we all need to continuously re-re-re-learn.

Let's take what most normal people would consider three inconsequential variations in point of view and examine the effect visually. I shot maybe 3 dozen images total of this setup between my Nikon D600 and Fuji X100S. The screenshot at the top are all from the Fuji and it's permanently attached piece of wonderfulness the 23mm Fujinon (35mm FOV). The three attached images were selected due to their similarity in framing, included elements, and relationship of those elements.

There are two differences between them. The first and most important is my point of view. The other one is in subject pose. That subject pose difference is actually a bit of a ringer. If I wanted to play ridiculous before and after games I would have done this in reverse. I would have picked images making the very first one on the left showing more of a frontal view with more of Anastasia and the last one as more of a side view. Instead I chose to rig it the other way. I will show you less on the left and full front on the right. What I mean here is that things look thinner in two dimensions if you show less of them vs more of them. If I would have reversed the poses here there would be even a more dramatic difference between the image on the left and right.

Let's just focus on that seemingly inconsequential difference in point of view. From left to right what you see with the first one is the camera about waist height - possibly a hair lower. Certainly far lower angle than me standing up as I am quite a bit taller than Anastasia with my towering 5'10". The second one in the middle is a camera point of view thats right around hip height. The last one on the right was shot with the camera about knee height. We are talking about Anastasia's waist, hips, and knees - not mine just to be clear.

Dramatic difference in the way the subject looks? In my book it's absolutely huge. A couple of things for you to absorb if you haven't really looked very hard at this kind of thing before. I wasn't trying to do some sort of experiment here but checkout how similar the placement of the subject is in the frame along with the proportions of foreground and background. Specifically the floor and the ceiling. Okay that's the same for the most part. Now check out how vastly different the relationships from far to near are in terms of things in the foreground, middle ground (like that room divider screen) and the background like the chair. Two reasons - first one I mentioned that "tiny difference" between camera at waist level on one end and knee level on the other. Obviously to obtain similar subject framing the angle of the camera is way different from left to right as well. That's also an extreme difference that relates to point of view.

This is the whole deal with things closer to camera are larger - duh - and things farther away smaller. Quite literally the percentage of acreage they take up in the frame. The close/far thing has to do with distance to you and the camera as well as the angle of the film/sensor plane. Actually one can counter act or exaggerate the other. The wider the lens the more these two things are true and the more exaggerated the difference. This is a 35mm field of view but similar things happen with a 50mm, an 85mm, and even a 105mm they just happen slower. Slower meaning you need to move the camera more the longer the lens where smaller movements are more dramatic with wider fields of view. This is big reason the rule of thumb is that teles are easier to use than wides. The other is the more you suck in the more complicated your composition becomes in terms of making anything that makes visual sense out of the mess that is the world.


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