As sentient beings, we are compelled to measure and evaluate the world in terms of our own experience and even in terms of the human body itself. It’s not a coincidence that we use the term “foot” to indicate 12 inches, or define “nobody” as someone who is not present and therefore has no “body.” The study of the human body and human scale are also a vital part of diverse fields like architecture, sculpture, drawing, medicine, and photography.
In photography, scale can be of way of indicating the relative size of objects or distances between objects. As I learn more about effective photography techniques, I am realizing that the subjects determine the shooting distance and the type of lens. Sometime, finding the right distance (and the right lens) can be challenging, especially when I am trying to capture the essence of a subject that is very large. This is what happened on our last trip to Niagara Falls. I was frustrated trying to capture the majesty, grandeur, and scale of this mighty natural wonder. After hundreds of shots (I’m not exaggerating), I stepped back and took a macro shot of the falls. The American tourist center and grounds provided enough contrast to give the viewer a clearer idea of just how large the falls are.
We can scale the heights of mountains and see the world rayed out before us, but we fail to recognize that which is before us.–Ruth St. Denis
In Sedona, Arizona, the juxtaposition of “tiny” me against the enormity of the red rocks lets the viewer know just how huge the cliffs are. This shot also shows diminishing perspective.
Everything around us is scale dependent. It’s woven into the fabric of the universe.–Geoffrey West
I shot this image of a hotel lobby from a balcony on the second floor. Looking down at the large fountain and wishing well, the two women seem tiny in comparison. (If you take a closer look, you’ll see they’re posing for a shot taken by a friend in the foreground.) The repeating circular forms of the fountain, flowers, seats, and rug also add interest to the shot and an interesting perspective.
I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.–Georgia O’Keeffe
This last shot is a bit quirky. We have a small number of glass objects collected over the years. One of my favorites is a glass apple. I took this shot of the apple last week near a large window. You can see the sky reflected upside down on the surface of the glass and in the stem of the apple. I like the juxtaposition of the large view of the sky within the smaller object.
Sometimes I think that creativity is a matter of seeing, or stumbling over, unobvious similarities between things – like composing a fresh metaphor, but on a more complex scale.–David Mitchell