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Continuing my thoughts from Lunar Impact, Get Ready for it!, one of the most fascinating things that I learned while watching IMAX: Magnificent Desolation was that astronauts had no sense of visual perspective on the moon.
Think about this for a second and then think about this in context to photography.
An astronaut on the moon could stand on the edge of a ridge and by visual assessment have no idea if it opened to a 20 foot gulch or 1 mile canyon. The stark lighting and contrast created by direct sunlight without an atmosphere to disperse light and the absense of recognizable forms left evaluating the most basic terrain characteristics difficult if not impossible.
Most of us realize in an instant that there is no plant life, structures, etc. on the moon, but few of us realize what importance the things around us provide our brains in assessing our surroundings. Perspective is learned as our brains wire themselves as infants and as we mature as children. Taking a leap to how we interact with our environment as adults and as photographers, perspective while we take it for granted, is a critical component to how we formulate our photographs.Â Inclusion of a recognizable item provides not only a sense of setting, but scale. Positioning of people, animals and objects can also create optical illusions.
In PhotoNetCast #17 I referenced a blog post Pictures Taken At Just The Right Angle. My reference to this post was mostly focused on the entertainment value of the images with in it, but also to give people creative ideas. If you dissect why many of these images are entertaining it is because of our interpretation of scale, distance, and function/meaning of an object. Extract all of these elements from a scene and you’re left with what the astronauts faced… an uninterpretable scene. As a photographer I find that mind boggling because it is such a departure from the day to day experience we face in the world we live. Even in the most desolate of locations that I’ve visited there has always been something to provide a sense of scale and perspective.
I think of perspective constantly in my photography, but hearing what the Apollo astronauts faced in relation to a complete lack of perspective it has made me rethink and dissect what perspective means and adds to photography.
Visual perspective and lack of, while a mind bender, is but one type of perspective. Tomorrow I’ll touch on yet another type of perspective and bend your mind in a completely different direction. Stay tuned…
[tags]perspective, photography, astronaut, moon, landing, Apollo, Magnificent Desolation[/tags]