Point Of View And Perspective

A brief follow-up to a more technically oriented post regarding lens choice and perspective. At least a half dozen people went out and did exactly what I demonstrated with my StupidCrap™ example shots. Most of them tested my assertion by using a far bigger difference in focal length than my 28mm and 50mm example. Standing in the same place using their widest lens then their longest lens cropping for the same framing they had their collective minds blown that perspective was exactly the same. Great — stupid pet tricks causing epiphany. With that horse dead it’s probably a good idea to talk about ”now what”.

Probably not a secret I rather shoot wider and closer for the most part. What might not be so apparent is how much I move around when working. I move a lot, almost every shot. Sometimes big moves, sometimes small moves. I don’t even notice it but a colleague of mine over at Atomic Canary recently told me it’s impossible to shoot BTS images of me. Funny stuff, maybe I’m the only oddball that wants their subjects to move more rather than less in most circumstances. Here’s a brief example of why this is the case when shooting wider and closer.

At the risk of stating the obvious let’s take a look at the shot at the top. I kind of like it for some reason, not stand alone but more from a feel. I happened to grab it while doing an exposure test when switching up wardrobe/props as well as changing from the Nikon Df to the my Fuji X100S. Patty is about the same height as I am in those boots. Tall for a female, not so tall for a male. I’m a towering 5’10” when not all slouchy. I shot this standing up.

The shot above I shot at about P’s knee level, maybe an inch or two below that. I’m also a couple feet closer. How much closer precisely? About one of my normal steps towards the subject. Only one step. I don’t know about you but these are night and day differences in POV and perspective in my book. The two photographs feel completely different in large part due to that change. If you’re OCD enough to check out the file names you’ll find they’re back to back shots as well. Night and Day, the obvious mentioned above. Ask yourself, do you take advantage of this? I’ll bet academically you know all about it, the real question is do you do it. Having observed dozens and dozens of photographers over the last year there’s a good chance you might not. Try it, especially when shooting 50mm or less and see what it does with your subjects. Worst case is you won’t end up with 47 versions of the exact same picture.

Moving on to some more subtle points. P has a longer torso and short-ish legs. Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m not speaking from a casual observer’s point of view. She’s gorgeous and great to work with. I’m speaking purely from rendering moving, dynamic, three dimensional human beings on a static two dimensional medium. That particular dress hides this physiological fact due to the placement of that blue ribbon and where the flare-out starts. In other words it’s a flexible wardrobe for P’s particular anatomical arrangement. Let’s take a look at something a little less forgiving in the wardrobe department.

Goofy hair shot I kinda like. One of the first for this outfit. Not bad, Im not super close but even at this distance take a look at what a couple — and I do mean a couple — of inches lower does…

P’s also a bit higher in the frame but now but that change in POV of just a few inches makes a fairly big difference. Both shots are below P’s waist and above her knee.

Now just watch what happens when I move just a foot or foot and a half closer and about a foot lower than the shots above…

or this…

Again all sequential shots, easy to see shot to shot with minor tweaks. Hell I’m way to lazy to look for perfect examples that aren’t right next to each other. Sequential contact sheet kind of things might even be more informative. Who knows?

The big effects that jump out are pretty important but so are some of the other ones that might not be as obvious.

  • Take a look at the last two vs. the first two of that sequence in terms of P’s leg camera right vs camera left. See the proportional difference by moving closer only?
  • In the last two shots I move a couple of inches around to the shadow side as well. See what happens to the size relationship with P’s legs with that tiny move? The change in reflections contribute as well but that slight move also brings one leg a little closer and the other a little farther away.

Bottom line; Who needs liquify when you can just shoot a little wider and a little closer?


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