Photography composition tips: 3 killer ways you can master perspective

Photography composition tips - Perspective of scale

Photography composition tips – Linear perspective

Photography composition tips - Linear perspective

Pick the right lens and position to ensure the lines in your picture are plumb-straight, or converge to give a sense of distance

Linear perspective is perhaps best illustrated by the shot of a street scene on the previous page. As you can see, the lines of the road appear to get closer together the further away they are.

This convergence leads to a ‘vanishing’ point. Getting a shot of the streets seeming to narrow is a great way to add a sense of depth, and also leads a viewer’s eye into the frame.

However, converging lines are a curse to some photographers, especially those working on architectural projects.

Linear perspective at 20mm - close and looking up

Close & looking up
Stand at the bottom of a tall building and point your camera up. The converging lines make the building appear smaller at the top. This is called ‘keystoning’, and while it is a great way to add a sense of scale, some photographers prefer their shots to look more natural.

 

Linear perspective at 100mm - from further back

Further back
One solution is to use a longer focal length and move further back. We switched from a focal length of 20mm to 90mm and moved several hundred feet away to straighten things out. Using a longer focal length also makes the elements in an image appear closer together.

 

Linear perspective - Photoshop correction

Other options
An architectural photographer will use a tilt-shift lens to skew the perspective and correct converging lines without having to move back. Alternatively, Photoshop’s Transform tools can do a good job of straightening out the ‘keystoning’ lines in post-production, as seen here.

PAGE 1: What perspective means to photography
PAGE 2: Photography composition tips – Linear perspective
PAGE 3: Photography composition tips – Background
PAGE 4: Photography composition tips – Perspective of scale

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