Add objects to your photographs for scale
posted Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 1:25 PM EDT
Some photographs need an object in the picture to give it scale. The size of your subject may be obvious to you when you’re there taking the picture, but may be confusing to your viewer. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself if you need to include an object that will help end the confusion.
Photographs of the Grand Canyon just don’t do justice to its size; you have to be there to really get it. One of those incredible extreme close-ups of a fly’s head tells us a lot about a fly but it doesn’t tell us how really small a fly is; personal experience with insects tells us that but the photograph doesn’t.
Let’s face it, if you really want to shoot a photograph that shows how tall the Washington Monument is you’re probably going to have to do something like park your car next to it for scale and stand back so you can see a big tall pointy thing next to a little tiny car. (On second thought, that’s a very bad idea. The National Mall Police will be all over you for that.)
Scale, or lack of it, is why Hollywood can build a five-foot long long model of the Titanic and you assume it’s five-hundred feet; after all, you KNOW how long a ship is. Take away something that adds scale to a picture and you can fool people or confuse them. Add something for scale and you may really impress them.
There’s a whole world between canyons and insect anatomy that may need some help if you want to help people enjoy—and understand—your pictures. That gigantic pumpkin you bought for Halloween is going to need something else in the picture if you want people to know you got your thirty dollars worth.
A toy truck needs someone holding it if we’re going to see it’s three feet long. That little tiny diamond your soon-to-be son-in-law gave your daughter could probably use a dime in the picture next to it when you photograph it for the annulment proceedings, if the judge is really going to appreciate it.
Kidding! I’m sure it’s a lovely diamond.