Perspective

The perspective is a deciding element for image creation. Changing the perspective can lead to surprising results and can influence the image’s message considerably. The perspective is achieved by changing the camera’s position. Where the photographer is located, is vital. In contrast, changing the focal length by zoom or changing the lens does not result in a change of perspective; it only impacts image detail.

Attention! Do not confuse image detail with perspective. The perspective depends on where you (the photographer) are standing which means that to change the perspective you have move.

A change in perspective is particularly obvious when you are close to your subject and are shooting close range foregrounds, e.g. capturing an image through something to create a frame for your main subject.

The example images 1 and 2 were captured standing the same position. Would you have been able to tell? Only image detail was changed, i.e. image 2 was captured using a longer focal length but from the same location. You could achieve the same effect by post-processing i.e. trimming the image on the computer. Here however; image quality may be reduced depending on the output format (in contrast to an image with the respective focal length). Image 3 was shot from a different perspective and therefore has a different perspective. For the untrained eye this may appear odd at first as example images 2 and 3 seem similar at first glance. How can I recognise a shift in perspective? Concentrate on the mountain range in the background. In examples 1 and 2, the mountain range intersects the outline of the ship wreck in the same place. In both example images the mountains appear larger than the ship. However, in image 3 the ship towers above the mountain range.

E.g. Image 1      - Perspective A – Ship wreck – Peloponnese – Greece E.g. Image 1 - Perspective A – Ship wreck – Peloponnese – Greece


E.g. Image 2      - Perspective A – Ship wreck – Peloponnese – Greece E.g. Image 2 – Perspective A – Ship wreck – Peloponnese – Greece


The closer you move towards an object, the larger it will appear in contrast to the background. This can be used effectively in photography, e.g. in order to make subject areas appear larger or smaller.

E.g. Image 3   – Perspective B – Ship wreck – Peloponnese – Greece E.g. Image 3 – Perspective B – Ship wreck – Peloponnese – Greece

If there is a great distance between you and your image subject and you have no foreground to capture, a small change in position won’t have a serious impact. In order to achieve the different image effect in example image 3, the photographer should be about 50m closer to the ship wreck than in example image 2. On the other hand, if you are standing near the image subject, one step to the side, front or back often affects the effect the image has. Try moving and monitoring how the image changes.

Compare example image 3 with example image 4. See how the ship’s bow changes in relation to the rear superstructure. Example image 3 was captured at a distance of 80 meters. In contrast, example image 4 was captured at a distance of 10 meters.

E.g. Image 4 E.g. Image 4 – Perspective C – Ship wreck – Peloponnese – Greece


There are subjects that almost require certain perspectives, e.g. children. You should crouch down when capturing images of children. The camera should be level with the child’s range of vision (eye level). If you capture an image of a child from the perspective of an adult (standing up), perspective distortion can occur as can be seen in the following image. The oversized head is created by the short distance to subject and the perspective.

E.g. Image 5 – Perspective – Child from an adult's perspective E.g. Image 5 – Perspective – Child from an adult's perspective


Exercise for perspective

  • Photograph the same subject from different distances (e.g. person, statue, fountain, house)
  • Try to sustain the same main subject size in the image by changing the focal length
  • When looking at the images, examine how foreground, main subject and background change

How can perspective be changed? A short summary

  • Distance to subject
  • Adopt a higher or lower position with the camera and in doing so, change the relative height to subject
  • Change vertical position to subject i.e. move and circle around the subject

Special classic forms of perspective are for e.g. worm’s eye view and bird’s eye view. Aerial perspective is another special form of perspective. Here the photographer’s position is not of primary importance, but instead the dispersion of light. More information about aerial perspective and the other special forms of perspective are in preparation.