Gaining Perspective in Scenic Shots
The gorgeous scenery that astounds you when you see it in person may not look as beautiful when you get your prints back.
FIGURE 13-4 The bare, outstretched tree limbs frame the scene and give a sense of perspective and depth in this shot of fields adjacent to Hammersmith Farm in Newport, Rhode Island. This image was shot with a telephoto lens without a tripod, but a stone wall was used to steady the camera.
Compare the black-and-white photo with the color version of this shot of Hammersmith in the color insert, where the rich color contrasts can be more fully appreciated.
Unfortunately, vistas that unfold in many layers in real life can end up looking quite flat and two-dimensional unless you take certain precautions:
Include objects in the foreground to add a sense of distance, depth, and dimension.
Include a person or something that will give a sense of scale.
Find a frame such as a door to shoot through. This gives the picture depth and keeps the viewer's eyes on the main subject.
When you switch to a long lens, keep in mind that changing your position up, down, or sideways even a few inches will make dramatic differences in the background. Move the camera before you take the picture, not while the shutter is open.
Being able to distinguish foreground from background orients and reassures the viewer that all is right with the world. You can differentiate the foreground frame from a distant subject with the following techniques:
Selective focus: foreground frame out of focus, subject sharp
Contrast: foreground lighter, darker or low contrast, subject correctly lit with good contrast
Scale: nearby frame is clearly closer because leaves and branches are discernible, but distant subject has different texture because it's farther away
Shooting with a long lens can make a busy background more visually appealing. The narrow view allows objects in the foreground to stand out more clearly.