That first moment of genius…
The idea of freezing and capturing what the eye sees directly in front of you. A stroke of pure genius. Here we are, over one hundred and fifty years later, with remarkably sophisticated tools that allow us to capture significantly more than what the unaided human eye can see.
So what about the earliest days, when the first lenses could capture only a replication of what the eye saw? The camera lens became the eye through which the world was soon to be captured.
When we are looking for that piece of paper on our desk, we are usually looking down at a flat surface. When you look up, and then, perhaps out the window, you can feel your eyes adjusting to the distance. And as all distance, when we’re standing on the ground, disappears into the horizon, we are used to knowing that it is far off. One way of judging that distance is by having a visual cue on the ground that leads to the horizon. One of the most recognizable examples is a road disappearing into the horizon. The example below was taken between downpours on the island of Kauai in 2014.
The example above is the most common form of perspective, called One-Point Perspective. One point perspective is when there is a single “leading line” that disappears into the horizon. In this case, that point is the road.
Here’s another example of perspective, taken while running out into the street (foolishly) on a cable car track in San Francisco in 2006. You’ll notice that there are multiple points that culminate on the horizon. Since they all vanish on the horizon, this is still one-point perspective. Still, your eye knows where the horizon is, and can even determine what the object is on the horizon.
For the purpose of our discussion, you will mainly be working with a single vanishing point. One point perspective also results, unsurprisingly, in cleaner images. And, clearly, when on the road in your RV, you’ll have an abundance of opportunity to experience this superb visual storytelling device.
Another wonderful opportunity for perspective is looking upward. Trees are a wonderful vanishing point. As are buildings. Here’s a photo that showcases perspective as the buildings vanish into the sky, and they resolve as a frame around the aircraft, recently departed from Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC.
This final example of perspective in an image is one where there is no discernible horizon, but the objects in the photo create the horizon. Our brain completes the puzzle of the missing horizon by assembling the missing information.
So when you take your camera out to make images after reading this, look for the horizon, then look for the lines that lead to it. You won’t find a pot of gold, but you might just find your new favorite image! For more great photo tips and other RV lifestyle advice, check out our blog!