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Quick Photo Tip: Using Linear Perspective

Linear perspective

In the first week of my four week online class with the BPSOP, we work on linear perspective. I don’t call it by this name, I call it a Vanishing Point since the name rings more bells than the former. It’s also a topic in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet.

The first known picture to make use of linear perspective was created by the Italian architect Fillipo Brunelleshi. It was developed as a way to create the illusion of depth from a three dimensional world onto a two dimensional representation of it in the form of a painting.

This was done by using a vanishing point to have all the lines in a painting converge at a point at, near, or just passed the horizon. A vanishing point within an image will move the viewer around your composition, appearing to him as the continuation of real space.

To create a classic vanishing point, one must consider three elements: Point, Plane, and Line. The Point is the spot on or close to the horizon. The Plane is what the camera see in two dimensions. The Line is the parallel lines that begin behind the camera and converge at a point at, neat, or just past the horizon.

I like portraits with a vanishing point in them

Line, as I tell my students, is the most important of all the elements of visual design. Without Line, none of the other elements…Texture, Pattern, Shape would exist. You and I, planes, trains, and automobiles would cease to exist…why? Because we all have an outLINE.

Not only is linear perspective a great tool to use in great light, but it’s also a way to come home with strong photos when the light isn’t so good; a vanishing point is important enough of a device that will emphasize line rather than light or color.

Btw, I’ll often put my subject in a vanishing point as see in the photo above. It adds visual interest to the portrait.

This February in conjunction with the Santa Fe Workshops, I’ll be returning to Cuba for the fourth time. My next springtime workshop will Berlin next May; an incredibly beautiful city.  Come shoot with me sometime.

If you send me a picture and question to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, I’ll create a video critique for you.


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