Photography – Sense of Scale – plus Wilson’s Snipe

I just recently read Jeff Lynch’s post (his blog) about showing sense of scale to your photographs.  Give it a read.  It is excellent and has great photographs.  I was impressed with it and decided to show you here, what sense of scale can accomplish.

Santa Elena Canyon - Big Bend National Park

These walls of the canyon reach a height of 1,500 feet.  The photo looks somewhat nondescript until you notice that speck at the bottom left.  That is a hiker making his way into the entrance of the canyon.  You can also see another person showing as a white speck in the center of the green growth.  Click on the photo and you see what I am talking about.

This photo was taken about ten years ago.  I was on a narrow trail up on the wall of the canyon, about 100 feet above the Rio Grande River(I am sure that Jeff has been there.) The wall was near my right side looming high above me.  I wanted a vertical shot, but I needed something to show the scale of it all.  I looked down and saw the hiker meandering along.  I waited until I could fit him into the image.  I was using a slightly wide angle lens so I could include a sliver of sky at the top.  I was using film and all my EXIF data has been lost.

So you can see how important it is to show something in your photos to show sense of scale.  For example, if you are photographing a lizard, an object, or anything that your viewer has no idea the size, include a pencil, ruler, or something that is familiar.

Now onto birding news.  The Common Goldeneyes have left the water ponds at Eldorado.  As you remember I saw them back on, I believe Dec. 29.  They were a lifer for me and I showed you the photograph.  Ann and I drove back down there today, as I was hoping to see them to add them to my 2012 species viewed list, but alas, not to happen.  We did add 11 more to my 2012 species list, bringing it up to 44 towards my goal of 225 for the year.

But the wind was blowing quite hard and most of the water birds were hunkered down under the banks of the ponds.  I did come up with another photo of a Wilson’s Snipe which I will share with you here.

Wilson's Snipe

Exposure data:  Canon EOS 7D, Canon 100-400mm lens.  1/400 sec. @ f8, +0.3EV, ISO 640.  Spot metering with aperture priority.

For more photos click on my Flickr link in the right side-bar of this page.

38 thoughts on “Photography – Sense of Scale – plus Wilson’s Snipe

  1. 1500 ft straight up! Wow, and yes it does make a huge difference to have someone/something in photographs to understand the scale! It’s just a shame that we don’t see some of the 10,000ft + mountains going straight up from ground/sea level! How stunning would that be!



  2. Love the canyon photo, and yes – I wouldn’t have realised the sense of scale without the hiker. Amazing! Great pic of the snipe, too.

  3. I love the perspective photos of natural parks. Thanks for sharing. That Wilson’s Snipe beak is almost as long as him, amazing how it manages to fly and get around. I have tried to take my landscape photos w/o people, but you show a good example of why you would want to include them. 🙂

    • Hi Martina,

      Many thanks for subscribing to my blog. I appreciate it. Yes, those Snipes bills are very long, makes the bird look cuter. I think it is a good idea to include people when you are wanting to show the size of a subject. Thanks so much for the comment.

      • Bob, interesting, I have been subscribed to your blog for at least a year or more. The posts came through my older email as I still use both. It just didn’t show up on my blog when I changed over to another email. 😉 I should change the rest of them too. Happy hunting with your camera.

        • I really thought you had, because you always comment on my work, so I knew you were reading all of my posts.. And I really thank you so much for that. 🙂

  4. A great photography lesson, Bob. Thanks for sharing your view and the link to Jeff’s blog. It had some great photos to show the sense of scale. After noticing the tiny little man in you photo, the entire perspective changes. I mean, those are too huge structures to capture. Great shot!. 🙂

    Great bird photo, too, as always. It looks cheerful (through its eyes), and I loved the texture of its feathers. Classic beauty. 🙂

  5. Gee, even with your hiker, the height of that wall is difficult to comprehend! Must be really something to see in person. One of the blogs I follow (Scott’s – the one who does the photos assignments) did a good piece about showing scale too, and challenged his readers to do it. I try to remember that when I’m photographing something where the size might not be obvious.
    I think your snipe is sweet! 🙂

  6. you sure got your point across-I was admiring your photo and comparing with the bush in the lower left-when I saw the hiker, an involuntary “Oh my God!” escaped my lips. I have kept people in some of my photos for that reason but this…this is really something!Great shot of the Wilson’s snipe.

  7. Bob
    Great picture of the canyon wall. When you look at the hiker, it sure makes you realize how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things. Thanks for the lesson.
    Jim Cunningham

  8. The perspective on the canyon is marvelous. I too am familiar with Snipe Hunts lol. Your knowledge of these birds is great…love both photos.

  9. I went on for years thinking that snipes were nonexistant creatures devised by boys to get you out into the woods alone. Then I found out they were real. I often wonder if the boys actually knew their ploy was based on a real creature, or if they were just following along blindly on that ruse. ;0

    Lovely photo of the real item, and what a shock when I focused in on the “…speck at the bottom left.” Awe inspiring grandeur! ~ Lynda

  10. Bob thanks for pointing out the hiker and it does give one a sense of how high the canyon wall is. That looks like a ruggedly beautiful place. The snipe has such beautiful feather patterns. Even though the color is drab the patterns are simply beautiful. I don’t think I have seen one before. 🙂 Carolyn

    • Big Bend National Park and the area of Texas where it is located, is very isolated, rugged, and beautiful. The snipe is very difficult to see. It is so hard, that you can be looking right at it and still miss it. They are very small, about 10 inches tall and really blends in with the grasses. They are pretty much all all around the southern and eastern states. Look along the muddy shorelines of lakes and ponds. They will be pecking in the mud.

      Thanks for the comment, Carolyn.

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