Forced Perspective Photography

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source
CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Free form, or more commonly known as forced perspective, just like this theme's name suggest, is a style of photographing where the photographs are created rather than found and most always it involves at least two subjects which may or may not be next to each other, in fact they could be millions of miles apart yet one aids the other in making the composition work.

This photo project is so simple to accomplish that even a novice can get good results. Take for example a beautiful night sky and a bright star, then two young silhouetted lovers standing in what seems right under the star.

One reaches for the star "grabs" it with perhaps the intention of presenting it to his lover as a token of their love. By now you should have realized that we are referring to using shadows and figures and other impossible subjects interacting with one another.

Composition and perspective play major roles in this theme, actually they are the keys. This theme can be done in daylight also. Take for example a huge tree which has somehow been bent by the forces of nature and a young boy or girl appears as if holding this tree and keeping it from falling over.

How simple is this technique you might ask; one of the subjects must be at a relatively distance to the other, in other words for this to look real the tree had to be some distance away to allow for the young boy to simulate holding it by holding up his arms at the right angle. Off course carefully choosing and arranging the perspective for this shot is what made it possible.

Even simpler ways to interact with this theme is to create shadows in a surface, draw caricatures upon this surface or place solid objects and then cast the shadow upon it.

Similar effects can also be accomplished at night, here you will need at least two light sources, with one being a flash unit. Once you have your subjects, one is illuminated by the flash, the other subject is in fact a shadow, most often of a person. Such a sample would be a soccer ball on the grass which is about to be kicked by the shadow of a soccer player. In this scene the soccer ball and the grass are illuminated by the flash and the shadow is created by a model some distance away who is also illuminated independently.

Be mindful to concentrate the light source which is being used to illuminate the soccer ball and the grass unto those subjects without it spilling unto the area where the shadow is to be present otherwise the flash burst or light will effectively erase the shadow subject. A photographic snoot is sometimes useful for this purpose when you want to concentrate a narrow beam of light unto a specific spot. Follow link for a DIY photography snoot.

A variation is to use a shadow figure to interact with an independent illuminated subject such as the moon, a plane, a building etc. Another variation is to photograph shadows interacting with one another like done in the early days of Hollywood horror movies. In both of these two variations you will need a backdrop or other surface where to "place" your shadows.

Alternatively if you have less than two light sources, then choose a far away enough subject which is illuminated independently and just aim your flash at your subject like a model reaching for the moon. The moon is so far away that your flash burst has absolutely no effect upon it.

This theme is only limited by your imagination and to date has proven to be the most fun to pursue, at least in my case. It's also a great topic to pursue when on vacation to add some charm and variety to your family getaways.

If you are Photoshop inclined, then most of these images can be composed by "sandwiching" two images onto one frame. Follow this link for a tutorial.

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CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

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So long as the subjects are composed at the right perspective to one another and the right distance from each other, there is an abundant supply of topics and subjects to explore with this particular photographic theme.

Most of the images obtained this way will be from a learning perspective, used to showcase your talents as a photographer.

Some good and very creative images can also be used by greeting card companies, and most photography publications as well as special effects publications.

Also never underestimate photographs as an art medium much like a painting is. Wherever a painting is used and regardless of the purpose for its use so can a photograph.

Unlike a painting, photographs start to loose definition the larger the print becomes and this should be kept in mind if your intention is to make large prints.

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Comments 13 comments

Lynn S. Murphy 5 years ago

What fun photos and love the details in your hub. I have tried this without success; I'm not giving up. Checking out the vids. Thanks!


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Thank you Lynn. Even if you are not happy with your results, the most important thing is to have fun


Diane Lockridge profile image

Diane Lockridge 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Great photos, consider moving them up in the article though so we can see them as we read the text.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Diane Lockridge: Thanks. The format is add friendly and was the one suggested by HP. Unfortunately HP doesn't have many editorial formatting options.


Diane Lockridge profile image

Diane Lockridge 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

@LuisEGonzalez Couldn't you move the capsule up though? Just a thought, you're the one editing it though.... best of luck!


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

According to the staff, the best location for adds is to the right and top within a hub. That's why the first capsule is always an add.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Nicely written! The second time I was in Seattle in 2006, my husband's family and I attempted a few pictures that looked like someone was holding up the Space Needle.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

randomcreative: Thank you, and I bet that you had fun with the photos, as this has always been a fun project.


wheelinallover profile image

wheelinallover 5 years ago from Central United States

Just when I thought your hubs couldn't get any better.

Hopefully I will have more time soon to get the camera out and get busy with it. I didn't end up breaking anything but really have to start taking the camera with me. While I was out and about today there were almost too many things I would have liked pictures of. I didn't realize until I was writing this I actually drove seventy miles today through some of the most beautiful country our area has to offer.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

Those pictures are delightful. I love the technique and it does sound easy. Thank you for this wonderful hub.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Thank you Pamela99, these types of photos are really fun to do.


joekreydt 5 years ago

Before I read this, I had no idea what forced perspective is. Now, I know all kinds of stuff about it! Awesome Hub!


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

joekreydt: Thank you or all you nice comments. I hope that you get to enjoy photography as much as I do

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