Telling a Tall Tale

September 20, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I think a photograph is more interesting when it portrays a subject in a different way. During my recent photo shoot at La Parisima Mission in Lopoc, California, I applied some techniques to hopefully add a new dimension to a scene.

As I approached the church, I couldn't help but notice the large tree in front of the building. My goal was to create a photograph that featured the tree as the main subject with the church as a background object to give scale to the tree's massive size.

The tree is big, but not nearly as big as it appears in the picture. I used the following techniques to exaggerate the size of the tree:

  • Objects appear larger the closer they get to the lens. Objects appear smaller the further they are from the lens. In this case, I moved as close as possible to the tree--until it nearly filled the frame. As I moved closer to the tree (with my feet, not the zoom of the lens), the church became smaller in the frame relative to the tree.
  • I used a very wide angle lens (a 16mm focal length) to enable me to get very close to the tree while still including the entire tree in the frame. If I had selected a narrower focal length, I would have had to back up to include the whole tree--diminishing the size of the tree and enlarging the size of the church relative to the tree.
  • The lower the lens, the taller the subject appears. The higher the lens is positioned, the shorter the subject appears. I positioned the camera as close to the ground as possible--for two reasons: (1) it made the tree appear taller; and (2) it helped create some separation of the lower right tree branches against the more distant background. If I positioned the camera at four feet above the ground, the lower right branches of the tree would drop below the distant horizon.

In my opinion, the picture gives the impression that the tree is massive (almost redwood-like). It appears as if it would take out the entire church if it were to fall on the building!

La Purisima MissionLa Purisima MissionLa Purisima Mission at 2295 Purisima Road in Lompoc, California on July 30, 2016 The morale of the story is to move your feet and to try different perspectives (up and down) to create a more unique shot.


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