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Forced Perspective

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Rick Dominguez

on 24 April 2014

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Transcript of Forced Perspective

While the opportunities for forced perspective are nearly limitless, there are some "standard" photos that have come to represent forced perspective purely because of how common these specific photos have become as they are copied many times.
Holding a landmark
Holding/eating the sun/moon
Holding another person in one hand
Toy larger than person/pet
People hanging from top of photo
Person stepping on another person
An older photograph or a sketch merged over a current scene When you turn the photo’s orientation to create the gravity illusion, remember that a straight horizon is very important so that you don’t shatter the illusion. Also, pay attention to the subject’s clothing and hair positioning. Hair and fabric that hangs differently than the apparent reality of the photo will quickly shatter the illusion. For example, the example photo has clothes hanging wrong for orientation, extra items in the background, and a crooked horizon that all spoil the illusion of this photo. How to take a gravity defying image Once you have determined the focus for your photo, you’ll need to set up the alignment. If the subjects are not touching in the photo the alignment of the shot is not as critical as it is when the subjects appear to touch. If you are setting up a photo where the subjects appear to touch, such as one person appearing to stand in another person’s hand, you may need a tripod to get the stability you need for fine adjustment to the line of sight so that you don’t have gaps and overlaps of subjects in the wrong spots. How to take a size changing image When creating this type of photo, the subject you want to appear smaller should be further from the camera than the subject you want to appear larger. Distance depends on the amount of size difference you want to achieve. To shrink a pet you might only need 6 or 8 feet. To shrink a mountain you might need a mile or more. Also, the larger the size difference between the actual size and desired appearance, the more space needed as well. How to take a size changing image Depth of field, distance, and line of sight are the three main ingredients in a size changing forced perspective photo. This is the same technique used in the movies for decades before computer graphics came along. Lord of the Rings is a great example of a movie made using forced perspective. How to take a size changing image In photography, perspective is a constant variable that becomes a universal point of reference for all spectators.  Altering the perception of a vanishing point creates a dual perspective.  Dual perspective is a fourth dimension that can set its own rules upon the universe within the image.  Dual Perspective Photographs where one subject seems to merge with another and photographs which defy gravity are technically part of this genre of photography as well although they actually rely more on orientation and point of view than a true visual compression due to the single eye of the lens.

Indeed, even the carried away by balloons illusion technically falls into forced perspective as the angle of view under the subject’s feet is compressed by the camera to create the illusion of more height.  Forced perspective is a photographic illusion generally used to make two or more objects seem to be a different size than their actual size. This type of forced perspective is made possible by the single lens of the camera. Unlike your eyes, which work in tandem to create depth perception, the camera only has one eye. As such, the camera has no depth perception, it sees things as flat. This is the same reason tree limbs in the background appear to grow out of the head of subjects in photographs. May the Forced Perspective be with you Forced Perspective 1.    Place your camera on a tripod.  

2.    Use a wide angle lens. Wide angle lens visually expands perspective remember that telephoto lenses force perspective to compress (See our tutorial on perspective compression)  Using the wide angle lens is not mandatory to create forced perspective, but using wide angle will make it much easier.  

3.    Use adequate f-stop to ensure that depth of field is deep enough to maintain subjects in focus (f/16, or f/22).

4.    Use Aperture priority or manual mode to make sure the camera will not change your f-stop automatically. 

5.    Alter the shape of the surface or any other element within your composition to create an illusion of perspective. 

6.    Keep some elements real (in our sample we used a geometric shape; human mind subconsciously gives priority to a square over trapezoid when it comes to judgment which shape is more real).  Everything is relative only to a point of perspective. If you never wake up from your dream how would you know it wasn’t real?  If your intention is to force perspective to create an illusion of size then use two subjects that are universally recognized. Tips for creating a forced perspective still life To find a location, look for a spot where a subject can lay down on the ground in such a way that you look like you are sitting against a wall and the camera can be positioned where the wall looks like the floor instead of a wall. Piers where reflections mirror the background also work well. Long hallways with doors or columns on either side allow subjects to lean into the hallway to suggest hanging or climbing out of the ceiling/floor once the photo is turned are excellent options as well. How to take a gravity defying image Defying gravity in a photo is one of the easiest forced perspective photographs to create. The basics of a gravity defying photo is to turn the photo upside down or on its side. Subjects will lay down on the ground with their feet on a wall as though they were sitting against the wall, multiple subjects can lay down on the ground at various locations to appear to be flying, or subjects can lean out of doorways to give the illusion of hanging. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your poses to find one that works best. Finding a location that works for this type of shot is the difficult part. How to take a gravity defying image To merge subjects, such as the current trend of old photographs held in front of current versions of the same scene, you’ll follow the same process as the size change forced perspective photos only instead of emphasizing size differences you’ll make the old photo/sketch match the size of the current scene. Because you’ll be holding the old photo/sketch (relatively close to the camera), the large F-Stop (small aperture) and wide angle lens will be especially important to get both items in focus.  How to take a
merge subjects image Most of these photos will be made with a wide angle lens (35mm or less) and a large F-Stop setting. The exact F-Stop required will depend on the distance between the two subjects. Use whatever setting is needed to put both subjects in focus. If you do not have manual focus control on your camera you can set the autofocus 1/3 behind your closest subject because DOF falls 1/3 in front of the focal point and 2/3 behind the focal point. How to take a size changing image Forced Perspective generally falls into a few main categories.
Making a main subject larger
Making a main subject smaller
Merging subjects
Bending gravity Types of Forced Perspective Optical Illusion Visual illusion is a tremendous tool in the hands of an artist. When she/he creates something that is not aligned with reality such process of creation rewards the artist with a sublime feeling of being a unique creator.  Reality itself is a relative term.  Our perceptions about the world around us are based on points of reference that we create for ourselves. 
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