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Forced perspective in photography wide-angle and zoom lens

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

Get together

In Sedona there are a number of fine photographers. One photographer, Ted Grussing, opens his home once a month for a gathering to have a potluck. We get to know one another better, swap stories, share ideas, food, laughs and images. After eating, a computer is hooked up to the wide screen television and each photographer shares 5-10 images. It is a wonderful way to learn about new techniques, places to photograph and see some gorgeous 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 mentioned Erin Babnick spoke about a technique when photographing a scene with a wide-angle lens.

When using a wide-angle lens you can get the whole scene into the frame. That’s all good. But there are many times when it does not look as the eye sees it. The technique mentioned was forced perspective created by blending two images made with different zoom range and blending them together in post-production.

My first try

The other night I came upon a scene or red rocks under monsoon clouds. When I made the first exposure I realized that the second set of rocks was rendered quite small but did not feel that way to my naked eye. I thought, let’s see how this forced perspective technique might work to give the scene a better feel.

Initial image: f/11, 1/40s, ISO 200 at 13mm

Here is the initial image of the scene. I knew I wouldn’t care for it because the second set of red rocks faded quickly into the background but I wanted the entire view shown in the wide angle.

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

Image captured under same lighting conditions at same basic settings at 34mm

I made a second photo with the lens zoomed in quite a bit filling the frame with the distant 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 bring more attention to the background rocks

Here are the images blended together which felt much stronger composition to me.

Pushing the image further

Image with artwork applied

You might know by now that I promote myself as a “Lens-Based Artist” so I couldn’t just stop with a fairly ‘straight’ rendition of the scene. I enhanced color and tones. Next I dodged and burned areas using a Soft Light Layer to add more depth and dimension. Painting textures were added using Photoshop Blend Modes.

If I were recording the scene for any reason beside art, I would not make these types of adjustments. But when it’s time to create visually pleasing scenes all bets are off.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob

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