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Thread: Making big things look big

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    neverhood311's Avatar
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    Making big things look big

    Yesterday I went on a hike to Heather Lake in Washington, USA. The lake is situated at the bottom of this huge bowl-shaped valley surrounded by mountains with little waterfalls. The shifting clouds covered the tops of the mountains, sometimes revealing rocky features, only to hide them again. Basically, it's one of the coolest hikes I've ever been on.

    But I ran into a problem when photographing it (well, 2 problems if you count that my battery died just as I got to the really picturesque part): How do you make a big space LOOK big on camera? I brought my wide-angle lens and captured some sweeping panoramas, but they fail to convey the 'largeness' of what I experienced. I think that one of the only photos I took that attempted to hint at largeness was this one that I took at 136mm equivalent: Making big things look big

    So how is it done? How do I make a large space look large? Is it with a telephoto lens, picking out distant features? Is it with a wide-angle lens to capture large fields of view? I want to go back soon and be able to show you all what I experienced.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Making big things look big

    Hi Justin,

    A panorama of stitched telephoto pictures, perhaps?

    Include something recognisable in shot that is a well known size (e.g. person, car, etc.), seen from a distance - difficult (read 'impossible') under these circumstances though, I admit.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Making big things look big

    I find that a lot of my landscapes get rejected as soon as I see them on the computer screen. They may have looked fine in 3D (mark 1 eyeball) but everything flattens together when seen in 2D, on a computer screen or print.

    With experience, which usually comes from a lot of disappointment, I now often look through the viewfinder and just say no! Experience has taught me what won't work. Now I just need to learn what will work!

    Having some form of scale reference point sometimes helps, as Dave said, and I frequently crop into the more interesting points.

    Getting several points of interest can help to create depth. Something obviously recognisable in the foreground, middle distance and far distance, even if that is just an interesting sky will tend to 'visually stretch' a flat scene.

    But from my experience, if you are taking landscapes, expect a lot of rejects.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Making big things look big

    Justin

    As per what the others have already said.

    Look at the image you have posted. Why does it hint at largeness? Can I suggest it's because you've got a tree showing through the mist. As Dave says, having something that we know the size of gives us a reference point. Okay, we we know that there are large trees and there are small trees. But in general terms, we have an idea of how large a tree is. So, we can tell what the scale of that hillside and the valley must based on that information.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Making big things look big

    One more thing I forgot to mention - don't skimp on the image size; let's have it bigger than 500px 293px for a better effect

    That tree Donald mentioned is so tiny (on screen) I didn't recognise it as such

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    neverhood311's Avatar
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    Re: Making big things look big

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Justin,

    A panorama of stitched telephoto pictures, perhaps?
    I did one of the lake but it made it look even smaller. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I haven't had much luck with stitching photos to make things look bigger.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Include something recognisable in shot that is a well known size (e.g. person, car, etc.), seen from a distance
    Cheers,
    This is very true. Thank you. I'll put this into practice the next time I go (which will be soon I hope).

    Oh, and here's the large version of the photo: Making big things look big

    And here's another photo of mine. I think this one works because of me standing in the photo. Making big things look big

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    Re: Making big things look big

    Have a look at Fernando's work - he's the master of wide open spaces.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/for...searchid=15026

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    Re: Making big things look big

    Start scrounging around the used book stores, GoodWill and Senior Centers for anything by Ansel Adams. He had a pretty good knack for showing the scene and was a very good writer, also.

    Wide angle lenses will give you the wide view, and will convey the size, when something of known size is in the picture to give a clue to the vastness of the scene. Telephoto will compress the scene, bringing the foreground and background closer to being on the same plane. Take a look at my picture of the airplane over the tree tops. He wasn't really that close, but the extreme telephoto effect made it look that way.

    Crop Duster

    Pops

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    Re: Making big things look big

    Justin - For what it's worth, I agree with most of the comments made by everyone so far, but would add or augment a couple of others. Both are to do with the basic composition of an image. Leading lines starting from a point in the foreground and taking the eye back into the distance is a classic way of indicating depth. The lines could be real in the sense of being a wall or a path, or more abstract or intangible in being a series of buildings or objects reducing in size, or even clouds. This is really to do with fooling the eye via mathematical perspective. The second aspect that can add depth is to make sure that distant objects are not too sharp. Distance haze is an important pointer in the brain's view of the 3D nature of the world. Coupled with this, if shooting in colour, distance is implied by a bluish cast (known as aerial perspective). In B/W, a cool greying would be the equivalent.

    The problem of representing distance in images, so as to create sweeping views, is not new to photography, but has a long tradition in artistic painting. Masaccio is credited with the first full and correct use of mathematical perspective, and Leonardo da Vinci with the discovery and use of aerial perspective. You would do well to look at some works by the Old Masters to see how they tackled the problem.

    Anyway, just some ideas.

    Cheers

    David

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