When it comes to scale in photography, the goal is to show how enormous things are. The best way to do that is to compare the enormity of the primary object with something the viewer can easily recognize, such as a person, car, animal, or other familiar object. For instance, let’s say a photographer wanted to show how large a skyscraper was. Sure, he or she could snap a photo of it to show all his or her fiends. Wouldn’t the photo have more impact, though, if there was someone standing on the sidewalk at the bottom of the skyscraper? If the building was truly as huge as the photographer felt it was, the person would seem tiny and that comparison would reveal itself to the viewer of the photo.
Photography is much more than seeing something that’s pretty and taking a photo of it. What the photographer needs to do it formulate a goal for the eventual photograph. What’s the photographer trying to express? For an architectural firm, the photo of the building may need to convey its lines and overall shape and structure. To someone who’s more concerned with the building’s effect on society though, the photographer may want to express how the large building has changed the human landscape. There’s a message in every photo. You just need to decide on what that message is before snapping the picture.
On to today’s challenge. When capturing scale, using a wide angle lens surely makes the job easier. Wide angle lenses are adept at squeezing things into the scene that wouldn’t have been squeezed in otherwise. Attempting to capture an entire mountain range with a 50mm lens wouldn’t be all too easy, if not impossible. Trying to capture that same mountain range is a heck of a lot easier when using a 10mm wide angle.
When it comes to scale, angle is just as important. While you can take a fine photo of a car driving up the curvy road of a large mountain straight on, it may have more impact if you took the shot from a drone hovering far above the car or from beneath the mountain looking up somehow. Angle demonstrates scale effectively. Remember though, good angle can sometimes compensate for a narrower lens.
Take a look at some example images.
For these first, second and third shots, the scene is very large, yet there’s something easily identifiable to the viewer in each photo. There are two people as well as one tree. The viewer may not know how large clouds, mountains or land is, but he or she surely knows how large a human is. And when that human is compared to the rest of the scene, the impact is felt.
For this photo, it’s sometimes challenging to fully grasp the enormity of a cruise ship. It’s easier to see how large it is when it’s set behind some very recognizable waves. Sure, the waves reduce in size as they get closer to the boat, but that’s the point.
You’ve most likely taken a ride on a Ferris wheel at some point in your life. You know how large or small the cart is in which you must sit. While viewing the Ferris wheel from a distance, you might not fully appreciate how large the actual ride is. When you see it from this angle, the size reveals itself. Basically, by looking up at the Ferris wheel and being able to compare the entire ride with the carts, you can see its enormity.
And finally, here we have a Hard Rock Cafe guitar below a large office building. This photo is a bit tricky in that it doesn’t really identify how large either of these objects are. It does, however, offer an interesting angle to show dimension and scale. I think this photo shows off the guitar the most. It’s pretty gigantic.
To complete this challenge, you’ll need to get out there and find yourself something that’s huge, such as a big field, a large building, or an enormous mountain. Then, situate yourself in a position in which you can capture not only the scene, but something that’s recognizable to the viewer of your ultimate photograph. Then, use your DSLR and favorite wide angle lens to get some great shots. If you wish, use your camera’s aperture and shutter speed settings for effect, but really, those technical aspects aren’t critical for this challenge to be successful.
When you complete this challenge, be sure to upload your images someplace for review and critique. Include your specs as well, such as your camera make and model, lens used, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings. Include your distance from or scale of your scene as well. We want to know it all so we can get a grasp of what went on while you were shooting and how you managed to take your photos. Then, link to your photos in the comment section below. Good luck.