Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Opening old perspectives

Soon we will all photograph in 3D and merge videos with still shots and images will be no longer saved to memory cards but directly transferred to Facebook from the camera. Or so they say. then, returning to the very basics of visual arts can be quite inspirational in our quest for better photographs.

The world is satiated with good portraits and photographers are always on the look-out for new PS filters and add-ons and post-editing methods that would make a difference between their images and the rest. But let's forget editing for once and go back to basics.
Let's take the good old perspective as a creative tool. We tend to overlook it in our photographs as something basic and self-explaining. But deepening the perspective can increase the value of an already good photograph tremendously, and one doesn't even need CS5 for it.

What made this come to my mind is a photo by Zoran Toldi.

A dilapidated door as background, bare feet on the threadbare cobblestones. All details match the portrait of a street urchin, and although the photographer shows just a small part of it it isn't too difficult to imagine the wider environment. A good shot just as it is.

Truth is, I have altered the above image slightly. Here's the original:

As I see it, the photo would be good enough without that open window. However, by that little detail the photograph looks more airy and three-dimensional, since the perspective doesn't end at the door and let's the eye wander beyond it. If I compare the two I feel as if my eyes would bounce back from the close background in the first version. It looks so much better with the background opened up - the simple effect of using a deeper perspective.

To make the best use of this detail, a strong crop comes to mind. Looking at it from closer, the arches in the background start communicating with the curves on the door and on the subject's clothes:

Thinking it through, the final result could be a close-up portrait with a strong emotional content and many little geometric details delicately connected to each other: the arches with the curves on the cap, the carving on the door with the fingers, the circles in the iron grate with the round number (5) on the sweater, the brightness of the far background to the bright collar. But what really makes the music here is the deep perspective. One only needs a good eye to see this altogether, even subconsciously, and press the shutter.

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