Aerial Perspective – The depth your images have been consciously missing.
Something I’m going to be touching on today is referred to in the painting world as “Aerial Perspective”, a way, if not “the” way to create depth in your images. When you see pictures of mountains, or landscapes you’ll often notice that they are coated with fog, clouds, smoke, steam, etc in order to make the background appear further away.
Why does this work? Well from my understanding this works based on the ideology of imitating the atmosphere in real life where pollution, particles, water etc etc all get in the way over a long distance and create this “fading out” effect.
So what if you don’t shoot landscapes? How does this appeal to those of us in the portrait or conceptual / fine art / composite world?
Let’s take a quick look at this picture:
I got the assistant to blow smoke from his E-Cig into the scene to separate the two models / subjects and create depth by allowing us to see the outline of the frontal subject more clearly. This is also a painting technique known as “Figure Ground Relationship” which I will discuss next week.
Unfortunately I can’t just “turn the smoke off” in this shot as it was in the camera and I was shooting handheld (making for a poor comparison). So allow me to show you a few more examples where it was added in post.
Here I added smoke to a portrait scene / fine art setting. I overlayed some smoke packs from the RawEx store, and painted them into the foreground and background to subtly add depth. It just doesn’t look the same without it. Subtle, but needed (to me).
Have you ever wondered why bar scenes look so cool? Or someone leaving a spaceship? The forests in horror movies, lakes etc.. it’s all that damn Aerial Perspective :D
Next time you watch a movie, pay attention to the “AP” and see how often they combine lighting, bokeh and smoke / fog etc to create a sense of depth. It’s basically every shot (depending on the movie of course!).
I hope this gives you a helping hand in understanding how you can create some depth to your images and also where you can get these packs from.
It’s one thing knowing HOW to do something, but without smoke grenades, fog machines or textures to overlay, you’re still relying on nature, which takes far too much planning and unpredictability for the vast majority of us. In some cases a damn sight impossibility.
Over the last few months I’ve been working alongside a truly gifted mentor called Tavis Leaf Glover who runs the incredible school “Canon of Design”.
It’s an online resource spread across 400+ days and videos etc put together to help teach you about everything you need to be a better photographer, painter / designer with regards to composition.
I can hands down say that nothing has improved my composition more so and as quickly as studying under this great man.
See you next week guys!
*Disclaimer, the links to Tavis’s blog “Canon of Design” is to paid content that you will not be able to access without getting a membership. I earn / get / receive absolutely NOTHING from this and nor do I aim to, I’m simply sharing with you what I believe to be one of the best resources for furthering your education on composition.*
Joseph Parry is a Commercial and Editorial photographer based in the UK that provides cinematic photography and ounces of humour. Follow him on Instagram for stories and kick ass imagery.