The brief is to ‘take a number of shots using lines to create a sense of depth’.
A photograph is a two dimensional object, a flat piece of paper – Alec Soth’s exhibition ‘Gathered Leaves’ referred to his collection of images as, literally, leaves of paper gathered together.
However, a sense of depth in an image can be created, to give the impression that you are looking through the photograph, to the real world, like looking through a window.
Eugene Atget (1857 – 1927) created images with a strong sense of depth. They encourage the viewer to see the images as reality, like you could walk into the photograph, and therefore suggest that an image can be three dimensional.
Here is my photograph of the M1 viaduct in Sheffield:
I had thought that the viaduct was a perfectly straight road from which you could see the roundabout at each end at the same time. However, my photographs clearly show that there is a distinct curve to the road. This curve, I think, leads the eye into the picture. The eye starts at the foreground fencing and travels to the point near the centre where the parallel lines of the roadside converge. In this example, I feel that the eye then travels back towards the centre right of the image following the brighter area seen through the spaces in the construction.
The converging of parallel lines is one way in which a feeling of depth is created in this image. The diminishing length of the white lines in the road and the use of a wide angle lens (16mm cropped sensor) to increase the length of the diagonals also helps to persuade the viewer that they are looking at a three dimensional representation.
This railway line, starting at the bottom corner of this image and leading they eye to the centre and then further to the buildings at the right, encourages a feeling of depth through the same techniques. I think the two parallel lines of the tracks, being narrow and more isolated than the road in the image above, makes the effect more dramatic.
This image of this tunnel also uses diagonal and converging lines to create a sense of depth. The small square of light at the far end of this tunnel provides a clear point of focus that appears to be at some distance. The low shooting position emphasises the length of the tunnel and so creates more depth.
I took the photograph below intending to use it in the next exercise on shooting a two dimensional image. I shot this from quite high above, believing that the circular lines and the high vantage point would create an image without a sense of depth. However, I was surprised by the effect of the diagonal line in the ‘well’ and the sense of looking down into a deep pit. I felt it better illustrated the creation of depth within in an image than the creation of an abstract image, but in a different way to my previous images. There are no converging parallel lines and no obvious objects of diminishing size, yet, because the photograph is taken at an angle, and because the curved lines within the well diminish in size, a sense of depth is achieved.
This final image above, uses the diagonal lines of the terrace on the left and the diagonal and converging lines of the road on the right, to lead the eye to the focal point of the power station in the centre. This is a busy image yet the lines are clear enough to draw the viewer into the image. The large size of the foreground containers compared to the distant hills in the background, emphasis the feeling of depth.
This exercise clearly illustrates how photographs with a sense of depth can be created.
‘…the physical photograph itself appears to be transparent – you look through it at the world’ (Course notes p 24).