Sense Of Scale

A sense of scale is created by the juxtaposition of objects and subjects within the frame that establishes a size relationship based upon that juxtaposition. That sense of scale can be based upon distance, on the “true” relative sizes of the elements, or on the use of optics that exaggerate the relative sizes through near-to-far relationships that are established with the clever use of depth of field. While wide-angle lenses are most suited to creating the latter effect, in fact the setup can be made with virtually any lens, given a certain point of view of the photographer. In most cases a deep depth of field works best, since the mind can better grasp the intention when all objects within the frame are sharp. Readers sent in a wide range of images, some almost surreal and others that showed an awesome world in which we are merely the smallest of spectators.

Standing In A Rainbow
Barbara Turner’s photograph shows a figure standing in awe at the edge of a rainbow and considering the Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland. She photographed with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an exposure of f/9 at 1/60 sec.
© Barbara Turner

On The Bridge
Nathan W. Dean created a high-contrast rendition of two people standing on a bridge over the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Exposure with a Nikon D700 and a Nikkor 28-300mm lens (at 98mm) was f/11 at 1/125 sec.
© Nathan W. Dean

Yellowstone Elk
This lone elk adds to the feeling of place and sense of space of this landscape at the western entrance to Yellowstone. Gerald Swede photographed with a Nikon D7000 and a Nikkor 16-85mm lens and an exposure of 1/160 sec at f/8 at ISO 400.
© Gerald Swede

Miami Shipyards
The night watchman sits in his office beyond which a huge freighter sits at its berth. Bob Brown photographed with a Canon F-1 and a 35mm Canon lens on Kodak 35mm Tri-X 400, developed to enhance shadow detail.
© Bob Brown

Solitary Sail
The huge vastness of the sea is depicted by this lone sailboat making its way off the coast of Spain into the Mediterranean. Gary Potts made the photo with a Nikon D70 and an 18-70mm zoom (at 31mm) and an exposure of f/6.3 at 1/160 sec.
© Gary Potts

On The Balcony
It might be difficult to see, but there’s one small figure amidst the maze of architecture in this urban scene. Gary Larsen made the shot with a Nikon D700 and a Nikkor 80-200mm lens set at 200mm. Exposure was f/11 at 1/8 sec with the rig mounted on a Manfrotto Carbon One tripod.
© Gary Larsen

Man in the wilderness is expressed with the diminutive hikers trekking the huge Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. Irwin H. Segel photographed with a Nikon D600 and a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens and an exposure of f/16 at 1/1000 sec.
© Irwin H. Segel

Tulips And Towers
Anita Lambert got down low and placed these small tulips in juxtaposition to the towers behind them in Marina City, Florida. Exposure with a Canon EOS 7D and an EF-S 18-135mm lens was f/5.6 at 1/200 sec.
© Anita Lambert

Winding Road
Mount McKinley dwarfs these tour buses as they wind their way from Denali National Park to Anchorage, Alaska, in this photo by Kaz Hamano. Exposure with a Canon EOS 7D and a Tamron 18-270mm lens (at 70mm) was f/6.3 at 1/400 sec.
© Kaz Hamano

San Francisco Scene
There’s no way the Coppola Tower matches the height of the distant Transamerica Pyramid, but Michael W. O’Connor’s clever use of a 24mm focal length and his point of view turns a sense of scale on its head. Exposure with a Canon EOS 6D and a Canon 24-70mm lens (at 24mm) was f/8 at 1/200 sec.
© Michael W. O’Connor

Kayaking Among Icebergs
The grandeur and scale of these massive icebergs in a glacial lake in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias State Park is shown to full effect in this photo by Raymond Uzanas. He worked with an Olympus E-510 and a 12-60mm lens (at 21mm) with an exposure of f/8 at 1/200 sec.
© Raymond Uzanas

Wind Power Turbines
One way to enhance sense of scale is to compose so like objects are repeated at different distances from your point of view. Don Brooks did just that with these turbines near Route 40 north of Peoria, Illinois. Exposure with a Canon PowerShot G15 was f/8 at 1/500 sec.
© Don Brooks

Poster And People
This huge Abercrombie & Fitch poster sat along New York’s Fifth Avenue, and Ron Caplain shows us how big it really was by including pedestrians as they walked by. He photographed with a Canon EOS Rebel T4i and a Sigma 18-250mm lens. No exposure information was provided.
© Ron Caplain

This famous landing pattern at Princess Juliana International Airport in Saint Martin brings planes quite literally right over the beach. Steve Thomas gave us a real sense of being there by including the small figure contemplating the scene (and, we are sure, the noise). Exposure with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and an EF 24-105mm lens (at 24mm) with a B+W circular polarizer was f/4 at 1/1600 sec.
© Steve Thomas

The Gallery
The scale and architectural design of the Milwaukee Art Museum is enhanced by placing the figures at the base of the vertical lines surrounded by the sweeping curves of the structure. Paul F. Conarty made the photo with a Canon EOS 5D and a Promaster 28-200mm lens (at 28mm) and an exposure of f/11 at 1/350 sec.
© Paul F. Conarty

Picture This! – Our Next Assignment

Within the overall design and texture of architectural structures are details that make for interesting and fun compositional studies. Because buildings are in and of themselves a compilation of numerous smaller design elements, this month’s Picture This! assignment is where we ask you to find those elements and bring them to the fore through studied compositions or abstracts, your call.

This photo is of a section of an office building that sits along the Rhine in Cologne, Germany. Exposure with a Canon PowerShot G11 was f/8 at 1/400 sec.
© George Schaub

How To Submit Online
1. Go to and register. Scroll down the page and on the right side you will see a box for entering your username and your password. If you have already registered and/or submitted images for the Galleries you can skip this step. Respond to the activation e-mail. Registration is free. You will use your username and password whenever you visit or, with some systems, it will automatically load for you when you visit

2. Check the assignment and closing dates in the magazine. When the magazine is printed we will create an appropriate gallery for your images. The limit is two images per assignment.

3. Select and prepare your images. We only accept files at a maximum 5MB size, JPEG format. Save the JPEG at a quality level of 10 or higher. Note that file size in your image folder directory will determine upload size, not the “opened” file size, as JPEG compresses at 1:4 at higher quality ratings. If your images do not load it probably means you have exceeded the file size or have not used JPEG format.

4. Click on the Galleries tab on the homepage. In the Category section use the drop-down menu to select the Picture This! assignment. Note that images are simultaneously loaded into the assignment category as well as your own personal gallery. When the Picture This! assignment deadline date has lapsed the assignment gallery will be removed, but your images will still reside in your own gallery.

5. In the Description box add title, camera, lens, exposure information, and your full name. Also add any other comments or anecdotes you think relevant. We reserve the right to edit comments as needed.

6. Click the Save button at the bottom of the page. This uploads the image.

7. You retain copyright on the image.

8. We will choose the images after close of the due date.

9. Please feel free to comment on images submitted by other readers.

Deadline For Submission: December 15, 2013
Images will appear in our March 2014 issue

Our Next Topic: Still & Motion
Deadline For Submission: January 15, 2014
Images will appear in our April 2014 issue

Please Note: By submitting you agree to give us the right to show the image(s) on the web and for publication. You give us publication rights in the magazine and on the website(s) of Source Interlink Media.

Please Note: If you submit images with an enhancement through software beyond contrast, exposure, and simple saturation adjustments please indicate the software and “filter” used to attain that effect.—Editor

Want to see images selected for past picture this! Assignments? Go to and click on picture this! In the “more articles…” box on the homepage.

Please Note: If the photograph includes a minor or a recognizable individual or group you are guaranteeing that you have a signed model release form, and especially a parental or guardian release form for minors. You should keep a copy of that release in your files. Scan that release and keep it handy. If an image is chosen for publication, failure to provide a form when requested will eliminate the image from consideration. You can find release forms at and other resources on the Internet. By uploading images you attest that the model release form is valid, that any depiction of a person is with their consent, that you have a model release form available on request, and that all images you submit have been made by you.

If you have any questions or problems e-mail us at with Picture This! in the subject line.

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