Perspectives, revisited

The two images below demonstrate the difference between choosing your perspective before you shoot and then composing around it, against choosing your angle of view then just picking whichever focal length happens to match where you are standing:

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2008. (Yurakucho, Tokyo; Nikon D3, 24-70)

Being self-critical, I was trying to ensure that all parts of the frame were filled; shooting with 24mm on full frame was a new experience for me, and the one mistake I continually made was not putting the subjects close enough to the foreground to be identifiable. Whilst a visually appealing image with nice lighting and geometry, there’s no real focus; the man should be in the gap closer to the traffic light to balance out that space. The most important thing to note here is that I wanted to get the whole scene in the frame to give it context – but failed to put a subject in.

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Late 2011. (Vienna U-Bahn, Leica M9-P, 50/1.4 ASPH)

Note how the diagonals converge onto the center of the image, precisely where it’s focused; there’s symmetry in the arrangement of the people to the left and right of the pillar, which balances the composition. I was shooting with a normal lens this time, and still managed to get some perspective in the frame. The red frame further focuses your eye onto the subject, which (in a large print) would be clear – the sign. The image is a metaphor for choices – left, right, back, forward – everybody is different, so everybody makes the choice that suits them best, which is why there are people on both sides of the platform. I’m pleased with this image now, but I have no doubt that I’ll find something to improve on if I look at it another five years down the road.

Metaphors and stories in an image aren’t so easy to capture, especially when you only have a very short amount of time to get the shot – most of the time it’s instinctive, if you happen to capture anything of deeper meaning at all. If you don’t, try again and practice until it does actually become intuitive. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t manage this consistently, and it’s something I need to work on. MT