Free­man on... Cap­tur­ing scale

There are lots of tech­niques for con­vey­ing a sense of scale in your im­ages, or for ma­nip­u­lat­ing scale to add in­ter­est

NPhoto - - Front Page -

Get more creative by play­ing with scale in your shots

Size mat­ters. Well, at least some of the time it does, and pho­tog­ra­phy has a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with show­ing how big, or small, things are. That’s be­cause the cam­era is so good at record­ing scenes and sit­u­a­tions with great ac­cu­racy – ex­cept for the third di­men­sion. Much of the time we don’t think of this as an is­sue, be­cause as view­ers we’re thor­oughly used to tak­ing clues from the scene in­side the frame to work out how large one ob­ject is in re­la­tion to an­other. In a por­trait of some­one stand­ing some dis­tance in front of a house, we know the rel­a­tive sizes be­cause of fa­mil­iar­ity, even though on a print the build­ing may ac­tu­ally mea­sure smaller than the per­son. In other words, scale in a pho­to­graph is all about the clues we take from the set­ting and from what we’re fa­mil­iar with.

So far, so ob­vi­ous. But we can mess around with the clues in a va­ri­ety of sub­tle, and not so sub­tle, ways. There’s a whole raft of tech­niques that range from chang­ing fo­cal length to ad­just­ing your view­point so as to jux­ta­pose one sub­ject against an­other, and these can help you to en­hance the sense of scale, or con­fuse it. The dif­fer­ence be­tween these two ap­proaches mat­ters, be­cause the de­fault mode for pho­tog­ra­phy in gen­eral is ‘show and tell’ – in other words, to ex­plain clearly. That makes sense when you have a clear view of what you want to get across to your au­di­ence, but cre­atively, the op­po­site may be more ap­pro­pri­ate – to chal­lenge ex­pec­ta­tions and to sow con­fu­sion. Here we can see both at work, some tech­niques re­in­forc­ing a clear sense of scale, oth­ers sug­gest­ing the op­po­site in the hope that the viewer will spend longer look­ing and think­ing.

Of course, not all im­ages are con­cerned with scale, and of­ten it takes a back seat to other mat­ters, such as mo­ment, light and ges­ture. But when the size of the sub­ject is un­usual, or plays a role in an im­age, these tech­niques can be used to con­vey that.

Gi­ant stat­ues make im­pres­sive sub­jects if you pay at­ten­tion to the sense of scale. This Bud­dha in Sukhothai is viewed from an un­usual over­head po­si­tion, and the lines con­verge to re­veal the ex­tremely small fig­ure of a pray­ing man be­low

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.