On Using Scale To Provide A Sense of Environment

On Using Scale To Provide A Sense of Environment

By |2012-05-03T11:42:03+00:00May 3rd, 2012|

It seems as though I can’t get enough of working on these images from this past weekend. It’s a wonderful thing when a small group of photographers can get together and start firing on all cylinders naturally. That was the case when I got together with +Varina Patel, +Jay Patel, +Patricia Davidson, +Michael Riffle, and +Nicole S. Young.

Horsetail Falls, seen here, was our first stop. The first portion of the trail climbs at a moderately fast pace, but once you level out, the rest of the trail is easy going. Once we reached these falls, we all naturally gravitated to our own areas, giving consideration to space out and get different comps.

I took this shot after having a particular conversation with Jay about minimizing the amount of dead space in the scene – namely, the dark and dull rocky areas that were devoid of foliage or moss. It just served to suck away attention from the shot. So, my aim was to fill the frame with as much of the greenery as possible while also including the waterfall.

As it so happened, I also caught Varina prepping her own shot in the distance. I remember being impressed with the sense of scale that was created here, as if Varina was a tiny figurine in this shot. If you follow the trail that bisects the waterfall, you’ll eventually bump into her.

This sense of scale is an effective visual tool that we should always keep in our back pockets when shooting such massive expanses, especially with wider lenses (this was taken with my Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS). It’s something that I’m going to challenge myself to keep in mind going forward, especially as my frequency of shooting landscape increases.

In terms of processing
This was a bit of a tricky one. It’s a single exposure image – properly exposed throughout with the help of my Lee 3-stop ND filter. The key here is to bring out the beauty of this lush scene without losing Varina’s presence. So, I applied the Magic Forest preset along with a Tonal Contrast preset to the entire image. For the water, I selectively masked in a Blue Filter in a tiny amount. Finally, I used custom Lighter and Darker effect layers and masked them so Varina had a slight glow around her, facilitating the viewer’s eyes to find her. All were achieved in +onOne SoftwarePerfect Effects 3. Final touches were applied in Ligthroom 4.1RC2

In album Pic Picks Over The Years (1 photo)

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  1. David Rogers May 3, 2012 at 9:35 am - Reply

    Yeah – sometimes scale gets lost. Is that 10 feet high? 40 feet high?

    It's good to have a visual reference in addition to adding a great visual element!

  2. Great job with the scale here, +Brian Matiash

  3. Patricia Davidson May 3, 2012 at 10:06 am - Reply

    Awesome! Exposure looks perfect. It is great to get a sense of scale with +Varina Patel in the frame! Well done +Brian Matiash

  4. Nicole S. Young May 3, 2012 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Great example of scale, +Brian Matiash! I wonder if +Varina Patel is happy she wasn't Photoshopped out of this photo, hehe … she mentioend that she and +Jay Patel do that from time to time :)

  5. Jay Patel May 3, 2012 at 10:10 am - Reply

    This is an excellent post because it walks you through the photographer workflow. These are the posts we often learn from.

    +Varina Patel has a natural glow around her…Why do you think I married her. :-)))

    +Nicole S. Young we always find that including people in the shot makes for a great stock shot.

    Your composition is perfect. The entire scene is filled with color…and in this case is better than my photo because mine had about 20% of DEAD space. I have other compositions…but not yet processed.

  6. Melanie Kintz May 3, 2012 at 10:12 am - Reply

    either this waterfall is really big or +Varina Patel is a lot smaller than I think she was. :D
    (great photo featuring lots of my favorite color)

  7. Justin Balog May 3, 2012 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Thankfully they were wearing red!

  8. Brad Sloan May 3, 2012 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Great shot. But, now I have to pee.

  9. Brian Matiash May 3, 2012 at 10:45 am - Reply

    +Brad Sloan Mission: Accomplished.

  10. Michael Riffle May 3, 2012 at 10:56 am - Reply

    Great shot of +Varina Patel. That waterfall really gives her a sense of scale.

  11. Varina Patel May 3, 2012 at 11:02 am - Reply

    Nice shot! I love that I'm in it! I am not quite that tiny in real life… wide-angle lenses make objects that are close to the lens seem larger than objects that are further away. So, I look a bit smaller in comparison to the actual size of the waterfall. In this case, though – that slightly distorted perspective works beautifully! Well done, Brian!

    I haven't had time to process any of my images yet, and I'm really jealous of all of you! So much to do, so little time!

  12. Shelly Gunderson May 3, 2012 at 11:22 am - Reply

    Very cool shot. Like the angle.

  13. Justin May 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Brian – this is a beauty – the hiker as a touch of scale is *perfect*.

  14. John May 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Scale is so important sometimes and is very easy to lose the relation to things when shooting landscapes. This can certainly be compounded by different focal lengths or even just perspectives.

    Nice use of scale in this to really showcase the size of that waterfall!

  15. Justin Van Leeuwen May 3, 2012 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    This is the most phallic post you've ever created.

  16. Alan Shapiro May 3, 2012 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    I love this. Those magnificent greens and the otherworldliness that the long exposure give the water… I'm jealous as hell…whoa!!!

  17. Kjetil Greger Pedersen May 3, 2012 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    NIce +Brian Matiash the "little" human does really show the scale

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