Vertical One Point Perspective

One point perspective is a powerful tool, creating tunnel-like symmetry and focus on whatever is at, or in front of, the vanishing point. But we nearly always use one point as a horizontal tool, looking down a corridor, tunnel, or street.

There is a second orientation which can be utilized for one point perspectives, one that still respects the rectangular geometry of most architecture. That is vertical one point. The image below is an even less common type of one point: an exterior vertical one point perspective. Typically exterior one point shots are reserved for creating powerful visuals in redwood groves or amongst other tall trees.


Here the mix of tall architecture, a convent bell tower, and Cypress trees, provides the encroaching elements from all four sides, which make a one-point work. Lighting provides a second layer to the image. But the single element that adds a living story to the shot is the crow, heading towards its nest in the belfry. The bird, and its relation to the belfry, was sufficiently important to my vision of this image that I took the best shot from the series, then rotated the crow 180 degrees, so that he was flying towards, not away from the nest. Other images had that direction of flight, but not that clarity of silhouette, so this edit offered the best solution to tell the story.

C. David Tobie


Turning Your Back on the Sunset

We are accustomed to shooting with our backs to the sun. But at sunrise and sunset, we tend to do just the opposite, and shoot images of the colors in the sky.  With the right landscape, that can produce some very satisfying images. Here’s an example of such a shot, from Tuscany in the Wintertime. TuscanWinter3-1

And yet, there is a sameness to such images, usually depending on clouds, or silhouetted trees, hills or buildings, to provide the visual interest to accompany the colors. The alternative is to turn your back on the sunset, and see if more creative options may await you in the direction you haven’t been looking. The image below was taken moments after the one above, and while it is less of the iconic sunset shot, it certainly has more of a story to offer. TuscanWinter2-1

The way the sunset colors wrap all the way around the horizon offers subtle color even in the opposing direction. The arched glass window above the door and the brass door bell show just a snatch of the reflected sunset to add further color. At the same time an entire domestic scene of the door, the bench, and the many plants tells a compelling story in the foreground, while a much more detailed landscape fills the background, given the better lighting in this direction.

C. David Tobie

Off Season Photo Scouting

Part of landscape photography is the scouting of possible locations, and noting the best time of year, time of day, and weather conditions for shooting in each spot. However, this constant judging of the ideal can blind us to the beauty of the moment. The shot included with this article was taken in February, hardly the ideal month for photography in Tuscany. And it would be easy to become caught up in what the summer light, and the blooming roses, would do for this facade.


However there are aspects of this scouting shot that make it an interesting image in its own right. The hint of winter sky reflected in the window adds context. The Miller’s Thumb prospering by the steps, despite the season, adds life to the image, and the copper compounds sprayed on the rose bushes leaves a wonderful turquoise tint, that highlights the wintery forms of the bare rose bushes. The classic stone and brick colors of Tuscany are also different, under the cooler light. Overall this forms a palette of Tuscan Winter colors unique from the Summer colors we are accustomed to associating with Tuscany.

C. David Tobie

Image Critique: Umbrellas on the Promenade

Umbrellas on the Promenade

I should have realized, with the popularity of yesterday’s image critique, and of the “Umbrellas” iPhone image, that the result would be requests for a critique of that image as well. That seems only fair.


Square and near square images are less dynamic then more elongated forms, and are best suited to single, central subject; and perhaps for still, inactive subject matter. Here the heavy frame enhances the static nature of the image and assists in further isolating the image from it’s surroundings.


This is a relatively controlled and consistent palette, without a lot of color manipulation during editing. The image contains a lot of near blacks and near whites, producing strong contrast. The dominant color is an autumn yellow, in the trees, the fallen leaves, and fortuitously in the architecture as well. There is a secondary series of greens, and a series of cool, light gray tones. The warm accent color is the red of the bench. The main subject of the image is the gaggle of people and their umbrellas, in high contrast black clothing and white surrounding elements. None of this was by manipulation, though such manipulation can assist in strengthening an image with a weak pallette relationship; in this case it was just there for the seeing, and triggered that “I must shoot this” response. Given the fleeting nature of the scene, the only option close enough to hand was the iPhone.


This image contains a very strong one point perspective, with the convergence point on the center of the image, further reinforcing the square format and heavy framing. The rail and curb converging upward, and the buildings and bridge converging from the sides form key elements of the image.

Eye Movement

The movement of the eye in this image is controlled by the dominantly square shape of this image crop, the powerful one point perspective, and the strong forms of the trees. The eye is drawn towards the center by the perspective elements, takes in the subject at the center, arcs back out on the curve of the trees, and spirals around the soft edges, until the gravity of perspective Pulls it back towards the center again.


The primary theme here is the people writ small in the center of the image, with their white umbrellas. Their centering and location near the convergence point as well as their high contrast helps assure their importance, despite their small size and lack of detail in the image. The similarity of the color of their clothes and their umbrellas, package, and shoes, and their orientation away from the camera produces an anonymity which keeps them from becoming individuals, and distracting from the quiet, impersonal nature of the image.

The secondary theme of autumn foliage, above and below, and the strong forms of the trees surrounds the people with a powerful, colorful riot that contrasts to their calm walk down the promenade.
The tertiary theme is the lovely architecture sourounding the trees and the promenade. It reinforces the perspective, and reinforces the color scheme of the trees, blending these two themes into a powerful, colorful environment contrasting well with the tiny monotone group, shielding themselves with their umbrellas.Finally, the cool gray of the sky and water bleed nicely into the architecture and trees, due to the fog, and the increasing blur towards the edges of the image. The blur strengthens the focus of the composition, and the mood of the image.


This as a pastoral image, calm and quiet, but it plays on the classic theme of the smallness of humans against the scale of nature or of the city. Like many pleasant images, it has that “oh, I wish I was there” effect. The viewers are drawn into the image by the promenade at their feet, and can almost smell the decaying leaves, feel the mist, and hear the babbling stream. This combination of safe, nostalgic, inviting elements can create a very powerful emotional response in the viewer, which is particularly useful if the goal is the sale of images.

Technical Information

Shot with the Apple iPhone4. Processed with NIK Snapseed for the iPhone. Published the same day, directly from the iPhone.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website:   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Shooting, Processing, and Publishing Images on the iPhone

There are many different mobile photo workflows. Some involve images imported to the phone from other sources, and processed in mobile image editing apps. Other images are shot with the phone, then downloaded or emailed to a computer, where more powerful apps can be used to process them, and where printing is more straight forward. Other phone photos are run through simple “one step” processing methods, to produce predetermined effects. But perhaps the most satisfying type of phone photography is when images are shot with the phone, cropped, processed and edited on the phone, and published straight from the phone.

There is an element of risk involved is this method, since it can be difficult to know how sharp images are, with no way to zoom in on them in most editing apps.  Color and shadow detail decisions can be problematic as well.  Although it requires a separate step, a final image review in Datacolor’s color managed SpyderGallery app before publishing can help assure that the shadow detail, neutrality, and color of images are as you see them on screen, as well as allowing zooming in to determine just how sharp the image is. Perhaps these features will be integrated into editing apps in future editions, eliminating the separate step.

Once the image has been processed and proofed, publishing to Facebook, Flickr, other photo websites, or to a blog can be accomplished directly from the phone. So the time from “snap” to “publish” can be a matter of minutes, while still allowing a significant degree of artistic control of the process.

The images shown below were all shot last November during the Merano Wine Festival, in Northern Italy, then edited in NIK’s Snapseed app, and published the same day directly from the iPhone 4. Despite the wine tasting involved, they are images which, at least at small sizes, hold their own against my DSLR-based work.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website:   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Back By Special Request; More Tuscan Images

The response (mostly direct, but some on Facebook or WordPress) to yesterday’s sample of my “Through a Lens Darkly” images was gratifying; thank you all. I have processed several more today, and will add a few below. The link to see the whole collection on my photo website is here: I plan to cover a wide array of image types over time, this is just the first set to be highlighted here. Others are in process, or awaiting processing time. Buon Appetito!

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website:   Return to Blog’s Main Page