Portrait photography tricks: how to play with perspective and blow people’s minds

Portrait photography tricks: how to play with perspective and blow people's minds

With this really cool portrait idea we’ll show you one of the oldest photography tricks in the book… how to play with perspective and make the viewer question what they see.

Portrait photography tricks: how to play with perspective and blow people's minds

Ypu can get fun and creative results by playing around with perspective and composition, and by combining images. For this project we’re going to draw the outline of some steps on the ground, then get two models to lie on the ground to create the illusion that they’re running up the steps, and paste in a shot of the sky to enhance the effect.

If you want to try this project yourself you can copy our setup, or come up with your own variations – you could have a person jumping between two ‘rooftops’ for example.

Ask your subjects to dress in bold, bright colours to enhance the surreal look of your image, and use balloons or other colourful props. You’ll need to find a suitable location to set up your shoot: we used a large open space beneath a flyover, out of the way of passers-by.

So get your creative head on and head outdoors – you’ll be amazed at what you can trick the eye into seeing using a few sneaky shooting and editing techniques!

Photography tricks: shooting your mind-altering portrait

Photography tricks: shooting your mind-altering portrait - step 1

01 Set up your shoot
Set your camera up on a tripod above your ‘set’; the higher the vantage point the better – you want your subjects to look as if they were shot side-on. Switch to Live View mode, and compose the scene so there are no distracting objects at the edges.

 

Photography tricks: shooting your mind-altering portrait - step 2

02 Draw in the steps
Roughly mark out the boundaries of the frame on the ground, and draw your steps within this area; you may need to fine-tune the composition after doing this. Get your subjects to lie on the floor and pose in an exaggerated fashion as if they’re running up the steps. To add to the cartoon-like feel we fixed balloons to sticks, so it looked like our models were holding them.

 

Photography tricks: shooting your mind-altering portrait - step 3

03 Camera settings
Set your camera to Aperture Priority (Av) mode, and set the aperture to around f/8. Because our scene was in the shade we increased the ISO to 400, which gave us a shutter speed of 1/25 sec. Start shooting, and get your models to strike a few different poses – they’ll need to keep perfectly still if you’re using longer shutter speeds.

 

Photography tricks: shooting your mind-altering portrait - step 4

04 Shoot the sky
You’ll also need to photography the sky to use as a backdrop. A blue sky with some fluffy white clouds will look best, so you may need to shoot this on another day. You want to keep plenty of detail and texture in the clouds, to take care not to overexpose them – check the histogram as you’re shooting.

PAGE 1 – Photography tricks: shooting your mind-altering portrait
PAGE 2 – How to edit your forced perspective portrait

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