Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Size DOES Matter

Have you ever been to a place that had a fun and interesting landmark and wanted to get a picture of yourself with it only to find that the object is so large it dwarfs you?  You are lost in its hugeness and the shot is fun but is kind of lacking from a "good" shot perspective?

Its all about proportionality.  As humans, we have a fairly well defined size range.  Its relatively easy to shoot people with people -- we're all similar in size, give or take.  But it can be challenging sometimes to shoot people in relation to something really big, like say the Eiffel Tower, or a jumbo jet.  Those objects are so big its easy to lose people in their presence.

Objects in Mirror may be Larger than they Appear

It turns out you can resize objects to be more in proportion to each other.  Its similar to the side view mirror effect where large vehicles can appear smaller than they actually are.  There's some visual trickery there that you can use to your advantage.

It's a common human experience that the further something is from you, the smaller it appears.  You usually have some control over how far things are from you -- you can stand as far as you like from the Eiffel Tower for example.  As well, you can control how far from you the person you're shooting is.  By controlling how far the tower and the person are from you, you can control their relative sizes.  The closer the object, the bigger they are.  Since the person is much smaller than the tower, to get them to be at least reasonably close in size to each other, the tower has to be much farther away than the person.

By bringing the person up ridiculously close and being very far away from the tower you can even make the tower seem insignificantly small by comparison.

Notice how the size of the relatively similar sized planes can be controlled in the above shots by where the person is standing relative to them.  In the left hand photo, the plane is very large because the person is right next to it -- most of it doesnt even fit in the shot.  In the right hand photo, the person is much closer to the camera than the plane.  The plane's size has been "resized" so as to be in proportion to the man.

To be sure, the shot on the left is certainly a professional, well shot image.  But the shot on the right gives a more complete shot of the plane.  The left side shot uses the plane as an impression, the shot on the right is more of a documentation.

SolArt Project 2012

So how then to address the solar eclipse that we will be shooting in May.  We are familiar with the moon as being a rather smallish object in the sky.  In actuality of course the moon is a massive object.  Shooting a person in relation to such an enormous object as the moon would ordinarily be nearly impossible -- you simply couldn't get far enough away from it to be able to comparably size it and a person together.  Instead, the moon has somewhat taken care of the problem for us by being so far away, appearing relatively small and almost manageable.

We end up having the opposite problem.  Its so far away, its a bit small and when shooting a person at normal distances, the moon shrinks to an insignificant size.

Since the majority of us are not able to get any closer to the moon than we are, we are left with positioning the person much further away making them much smaller and more similar in size to the moon.  It is at this great distance that a person can be seen to be near, or surrounded by, an enormous moon.

And since the moon and person are so far away at this point, you have to zoom in... a lot... to be able to get a decent shot of the pair.

Hence this rented behemoth.

If you haven't already, please check out our site for more information on this interesting and challenging project!


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