Forced perspective in wide angle and zoom photography

Forced perspective in wide angle and zoom photography

Here’s another reminder that meeting and hanging out with fellow photographers is not only fun, but also educational!

Getting together

In Sedona, there are some good photographers. A photographer, Ted Grussing, opens his house once a month for a potluck gathering. We get to know each other better, exchange stories and share ideas, food, laughter and images. After dinner, a computer is connected to the widescreen television and each photographer shares 5-10 images. It’s a great way to learn new techniques, places to shoot, and see beautiful photography.

Forced perspective in photography with a wide-angle zoom lens

The Sedona Photography Symposium was held last week while I was out of town teaching in Tennessee. A fellow photographer stated Erin Babnick talked about a technique when shooting a scene with a wide angle lens.

If you use a wide-angle lens, you can get the whole scene in view. That’s all good. But there are many times when it doesn’t look the way the eye sees it. The technique mentioned was forced perspective, created by mixing two images shot at different zoom ranges and stitching them together in post-production.

My first attempt

Recently I came across a scene of red rocks under monsoon clouds. When I took the first shot I realized that the second set of rocks had been rendered quite small, but it didn’t feel that way to my naked eye. I thought let’s see how this forced perspective technique could work to make the scene feel better.

First shot: f/11, 1/40s, ISO 200 at 13mm

Here’s the first image of the scene. I knew I wouldn’t care because the second set of red rocks quickly faded into the background, but I wanted to show the whole image at a wide angle.

All images were created with the Lumix G9 and the Leica 12-60 f/2.8-4.0 lens.

Image captured under the same lighting conditions at the same base settings at 34mm

I took a second shot with the lens zoomed in quite a bit, filling the frame with the far range. Then, in Photoshop, I combined the images to meet my ultimate vision, with both sets of rocks having the same prominence.

Images combined to draw more attention to the background rocks

Here are the blended images that felt like a much stronger composition to me.

Push the image further

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Image with artwork applied

You may know by now that I promote myself as a “Lens-Based Artist” so I couldn’t stop with a pretty straight forward rendition of the scene. I enhanced color and tones. I then dodged and burned areas with a soft layer of light to add more depth and dimension. Painting textures are added with Photoshop Blend Modes.

If I were shooting the scene for any reason other than art, I wouldn’t make these kinds of adjustments. But when it comes time to create visually appealing scenes, all bets are off.

Yours in creative photography, Bob