Viewpoint as subject
Use shadow (or reflection) to bring an interesting viewpoint into the image
Overviews appeal to our sense of wanting to see things laid out before us. The bird’s-eye view is a privileged one, somehow commanding and putting us in charge. An illusion, of course, but a pleasant one. Tall buildings and cliff-tops are all co-opted these days for this experience, and the scenic overlook is a signposted stop on a national park route. Drones join in as desirable camera platforms. One thing usually missing from these vantage points is the evidence of the viewpoint itself, and in most cases it’s either irrelevant or you may not actually want it appearing in and interfering with the view – similar to trying to hide your own shadow when shooting with a low sun behind you. Occasionally, though, revealing the viewpoint can be a creative solution.
An unusual lighthouse
The problem here, on a small and littlevisited island in Indonesia, was how to make the most effective image of an iron 19th century lighthouse. Lighthouses by themselves aren’t particularly unusual subjects, unless they’re in a special location or are unusually tall, and that was the case here. These tiny and remote islands were where the Dutch mined tin, and this
The lighthouse is the subject without actually appearing in the picture
19th-century lighthouse, shipped in parts from Scotland, is one of the world’s tallest cast-iron lighthouses. I shot from every useful angle I could think of at ground- and water-level, but none of these really got across the height and location. I eventually climbed it out of curiosity and was surprised by the sheer readability of the shadow from this vertigo-inducing viewpoint. I waited for the shadow to lengthen and I got the shot I was hoping for. So, the lighthouse is the subject without actually appearing in the picture.
Tanjung Binga lighthouse, Billiton, casts its long shadow over the island and sea
A typical workaround from sea-level – fitting the lighthouse with a variety of foregrounds
The final viewpoint