Venetian boats

5 ways to shift perspectives with your photography

Playing with scale in your photos is a great way to improve your creativity and the impact of your compositions - and have some fun along the way. Read on and learn how to trick your viewers’ eyes with forced perspective shots or tilt-shift techniques (using lenses and post-processing software and apps) and discover how to shoot things so they look smaller than life. Like with all photography, experimenting with scale is all about exploring new angles, expressing your unique perspective on the world and capturing great images.

1. Create miniature worlds with tilt-shift techniques

A tilt-shift photograph tricks the eye into believing that an image is of a miniature world. You can buy tilt-shift lenses for DSLRs, recreate the effect using Miniature Effect on selected Canon DSLR and compact cameras, via post-processing software and apps. If you want to create a tilt-shift image of your city, look for a scene without a busy background and be sure to take the photo from above to achieve the desired effect of looking down on a tiny town.

2. Experiment with macro photography

Macro photos capture extreme details by magnifying them. They allow you to capture extreme close-ups and usually result in images where your subject appears to be larger-than-life. This technique is often used to show magnified shots of nature, but you can also capture intricate details of city streets, people's faces or anything you want to get close to. The effect is not easily achievable with a smartphone camera. The best results come from using a DSLR with a macro lens or a good compact camera with a macro setting.

3. Have fun with forced perspectives

A photographic trick known as forced perspective plays with our sense of perception and creates optical illusions to make objects appear larger, smaller or further away. By carefully positioning people, places or objects in relation to one another you can create mind-bending effects or hilarious results. You may have already taken a photo of a friend holding a setting sun between their fingers at some time, so why not use your imagination to produce other fun, forced perspectives you can share?

4. Show scale using depth of field

One of the big differences between photos taken with a smartphone and a more versatile camera like a DSLR or an expert compact camera is the way the two cameras focus and control depth of field. With a DSLR, it's relatively easy to pick out a single subject in sharp focus against a beautifully blurred background or foreground, simply by changing the aperture setting or zooming right in. You can use depth of field to convey a sense of scale in your photos to show how small something can seem in the context of a bigger environment.

5. Replace a face with a vinyl album sleeve

This one’s just for fun. If you, your family or friends have a pile of vinyl records at home, try swapping someone’s face for that on a piece of album artwork. It can look really effective if you try to match the context and colours of the album sleeve with the background of your shot. You can also try the same idea with a magazine, a face-sized painting or another photograph. Remember, the trick is to match the scale of the album sleeve to the rest of your image so face and body look in proportion. Otherwise the optical illusion won’t work.