Get cre­ative with scal e

NPhoto - - Special Feature -

What ’s the Big Idea?

How of­ten have you looked at a photo of a wa­ter­fall and had no idea if it was three or 30 feet tall? When you want to show the size of some­thing, you must in­clude an ob­ject that is a known size to give the im­age scale, and then ev­ery­thing be­comes clear.

One way to add a sense of scale to im­ages is to place an ob­ject close to the lens with the rest of the scene in the back­ground. This is a clas­sic near-far tech­nique used to add depth in land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy. The only prob­lem is that it usu­ally re­quires the use of a wide-an­gle lens, which will make the close ob­ject look large in the frame and the back­ground ap­pear much smaller.

The best way to em­pha­sise your sub­ject by us­ing scale is to use a tele­photo lens to com­press the scene. This will keep the main sub­ject large within the frame, then, when you place a smaller el­e­ment in the scene that pro­vides a sense of scale, the viewer will get the full im­pact of the scene.

What ’s the Key?

The key to this tech­nique is a well-placed el­e­ment to con­trast with the main sub­ject. It won’t be as ef­fec­tive if the el­e­ment is so small that you have to search for it, or if it’s placed against a match­ing tone so it blends in. In this im­age of Dyn­jandi wa­ter­fall in Ice­land, I chose to use a 70-200mm lens set at 70mm to crop in tight on part of the wa­ter­fall. If I had in­cluded the en­tire thing, which was twice the size of what is shown here, the per­son would have been so small that you wouldn’t see him, de­feat­ing the point of us­ing scale. I com­posed the scene so that he was placed in the lower third of the frame against the white sec­tion of the wa­ter­fall. A red coat also stands out much more than a green or blue coat would.

When you want to show the size of some­thing, in­clude an ob­ject that is a know n size to give the im­age scale

What­ever you use to give a sense of scale has to be large enough to be recog­nis­able

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