Its a Matter of Perspective

Photo illustrating the ascent, by stairs, to the top of the Arch de Triumph in Paris, FranceCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lens @ 24mm. Exposure details: 1/20 second @ f5.6 ISO 1600.

When it comes to photography I think perspective is the lost cousin within the image design family. And, as a matter of clarification, what I call image design most folks call composition. In fact composition, while important, is but one aspect of image design. There's also color, tone, texture, light, shadow, balance, pattern, repetition and, of course, perspective.

I approach my photography through a series of photography mantras. Here's one of them

  • Move yourself, move the subject
This is a fundamental concept which provides a simple solution to improve your pictures. Put simply, if things aren't working move. Photography is a physical endeavor and by moving ourselves and/or our subject we have the ability to open ourselves up to a range of options including differences in lighting, background and perspective.

Take the two images in question. Both feature a stairwell leading to a landing on the top of the famous Arch de Triumph in Paris, France. The top image is made from what is referred to as a worms eye viewpoint. Conversely the bottom image, made from a birds eye viewpoint, shows the stairwell from above.
           

Photo illustrating the descent, by stairs, to the top of the Arch de Triumph in Paris, FranceCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lens @ 28mm. Exposure Details: 1/8 second @ f4 ISO 1600.

Personally I like the image at the top of this article. It's a cleaner design. The line of the handrail leads the viewer up through the image and helps break up the monotone under side of the stairwell as we move from the lighter foreground through darker tones as we progress upwards. While I like the other image I feel the addition of texture adds an extra design element that seems to overly complicate the image and, as a consequence, its success. There's only so much the average eye/brain can deal with and it usually pays to keep things simple.

Next time you're out and about try taking a more physical approach to your photography. And remember, in the world of image design, perspective is your friend.

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru