Ugly Hedgehog® - Photography Forum
Converging verticals are dynamic
Feb 11, 2017 00:41:50   #
RichardQ Loc: Colorado
I know rhat many architectural photographers bridle when they see a building image with converging vertical lines. Yet they see nothing wrong with converging horizontal lines. I have taken numerous photographs on assignment for architects and for publication in trade magazines, in which the editors had no problem with vertical convergence. It is not always possible to fully "correct" convergence with a view comera (i.e, aligning the film plane to true vertical, then raising the lens standard until the ground glass image shows the entire building), especially if your back is against a building facing the subject. That was the case with the attached cover shot, but the editors selected it anyway, for its dramatic energy. Personally, I think the photographer should offer the viewer (or customer) a selection of perspectives, including converging lines. Converging verticals are dynamic, while parallel vertical lines are static. I don't want to insult the classic "corrected" images, which can be beautiful, but the "converging" image is often more striking.

Of course, my second attachment is an extreme version of this posit. It was an experiment to see if the viewer's eyes would always start at the bottom of the frame and be pulled to the top, simulating a movie pan but without actually moving the camera. If the buildings had been "corrected," the image would not have nearly the dynamic power to control the viewer's eye track. O.K., time to pile on with objections!

(Technical info: Camera was a medium-format rollfilm Brooks-Plaubel Veriwide 100, fixed Schneider Super-Angulon 47mm/f:8 lens, Kodak Ekatachrome transparency, Kodak Tri-X B&W neg, 2-1/4" x 3-1/2" frame size)
Denver, Colorado
Denver, Colorado...
Lower Manhattan, NYC
Lower Manhattan, NYC...

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Feb 11, 2017 02:51:03   #
rjaywallace Loc: Wisconsin
Very interesting comment, Richard! Thank you for posting it.

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Feb 11, 2017 05:58:40   #
jdubu Loc: San Jose, CA
I think your point is perfectly valid and, considering our perspective view of the world, true.

I usually don't shoot tall buildings and do mostly interiors. So converging lines is not something I necessarily strive for in a finished photo. But, if I want to convey height in an open interior, I would certainly entertain the idea of converging walls to help do it. If there weren't any converging lines in the cover photo, it would have been perceived as a much shorter, squatter fa├žade to most viewers. I think it would have also lost dimensional quality.

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Feb 11, 2017 09:39:45   #
mallen1330 Loc: Chicago western suburbs
Thanks for posting Richard. I agree. While it is easy to correct vertical perspective with digital photos using current software, The examples you posted are perfect examples for NOT doing so. It these cases -- looking up at tall buildings or ceilings -- would result in unsettling distortion. And, is not warranted artistically. (And, difficult to achieve with film in post processing.)

You mentioned converging horizontal lines. It's funny how our brains work to "normalize" how we see perspective. We "see" nothing "wrong" in the converging horizontals as they converge into the distance. But, try this experiment. As you tilt your head up toward a ceiling or the sky, note that the verticals seem to remain parallel. Our brains don't seem to be able to adjust in that way when looking at a photograph of the same scene.

As an architect, I rendered my buildings using two-point perspective -- never three-point (that would affect the verticals).

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