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Food for digital Thought: The Vanishing Point

classic Vanishing Point In the pat few years I’ve written several posts that included, to some degree, directional and leading lines and have talked at some length about the Vanishing Point. It’s time to dedicate an entire post on one of the most powerful tools in taking our photos what I refer to as “up a notch”…the Vanishing Point.

Back in the very old days (as in medieval times) when artists, or draftsmen wanted to show linear perspective, they would either overlap objects to indicate position and create a visual sensation of depth, or they might place one set of objects or subjects below each other to try to create the same effect.

In the early fifteenth century, an artist named Fillipo Brunelleschi demonstrated a method to create the illusion of making distant objects appear smaller than closer objects. It was a method of perspective that we now refer to as a Vanishing Point.

Brunelleschi had created a way to create the third dimension (depth) on paper, in a two dimensional plane, existing of only height and width.

In the modern world, describing a Vanishing Point to a person without specialized knowledge would be the point where parallel lines appear to converge.

In my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, we work on ways to keep the viewer an active participant when looking at our photos. How we manage what the viewer perceives and processes is an important step in doing just that.

How we can get the viewer to perceive a Vanishing Point goes back to the principle of making things appear smaller as they move away from the lens towards the horizon. A Vanishing Point is an important tool when you’re trying to create depth on a two dimensional plane. Besides depth, it will add realism and a sense of drama; it can be coming from any direction the viewer looks.

A classic Vanishing Point is made up of three elements:

The Point: is the spot on the horizon or just past it. This is where your eye will eventually end up after you’ve composed your photograph and put whatever subject matter or objects you have incorporated into your composition.

The Plane: is the image seen through the camera in two dimensions.

The Line: refers to the parallel lines that appear to get closer together the further away they get. In fact, they remain the same distance apart as they lead to the point on the horizon. These lines are perpendicular to the lens axis and start in front of the photograph. When they reach the point on the horizon, everything you observe comes together, then seems to disappear.

There are those that say that the parallel lines do not need to go all the way to the horizon, as long as they converge at a point somewhere past the middle of the frame; and/or converge close enough to the horizon to be implied.

Here are some examples of a Vanishing Point:

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and check out my 2016 workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. In conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be leading a group to Cuba for the third time next March. Come join me in what I’ll guarantee you to be an amazing experience, and you’ll return home with memorable photos from a wonderful country.

Don’t forget to send me youir photo and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.


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