How to use Vanishing Points in your Photography


All fine arts have vanishing points. It is crucial to understand vanishing points in order to draw perspective pieces and capture powerful photos that convey depth. Although vanishing points or perspective projection might sound complicated, it is actually quite simple and can be a great help in your photography.

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What is a Vanishing Point?

A vanishing line is a point at the horizon of an image where parallel lines intersect to create the illusion that depth. Influential painters and artists of the Renaissance popularized the concept of vanishing points in linear perspective techniques. In the past, artists had to follow certain rules regarding where vanishing points were to be placed in relation to the eye level and point of view. Artists have become more open to experimenting with vanishing points in photography and art as they evolve.

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Three types of perspective

Visual artists use perspective to show depth in three-dimensional space. Artists have struggled for millennia to find the right way to create depth on a flat surface. To understand how vanishing point can be used in photographs, you need to first learn the basics of perspective and how they work.

One-point perspective: This is the simplest type of linear perspective. Artists with basic drawing skills can use it in a linear perspective drawing. In a single point perspective drawing, the horizontal and vertical parallel lines appear to merge at a single vanishing center.

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Two-point perspective. In two-point perspectiva, an image is divided in two sides. Each side has its own vanishing point. Straight lines will bend to the side they come from, regardless of which vanishing point it is.

Three-point perspective: Straight lines intersect at three points in a three-point perspective drawing, photograph or drawing. These points are usually placed by artists at the edges of any two-dimensional surface where their image is composed.

Here are 5 tips for using Vanishing Points in Your Photography

Now that you understand the basics of vanishing point photography, it is time to play with how they are used in your photographs. Parallel lines are required for vanishing points. If your frame contains a series of parallel lines, you have the opportunity to experiment with composition. Consider how straight lines can draw your eye towards different parts of your picture. Here’s a step-by–step guide on how to use vanishing points during real-life photography shoots:

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  1. Take stock of your surroundings. Before you grab your camera, take the time to look around at the scene. Do you see a cityscape that is dominated by tall, angular skyscrapers reaching towards the heavens from the horizon? Do you see a series of railroad tracks that appear to be bending as they approach the horizon, or are you looking at them? These are examples of vanishing points that are visible in your line-of-sight. However, regardless of where you are photographing, you will likely find a vanishing spot if you take time to search for it.
  2. The focal point is important. After you have identified the vanishing points (or points) within your picture plane, think about what focal point you want for your image. Do you want your viewer to focus on a particular part of the frame? You might frame your vanishing point to align with the sun if there is a dramatic sunrise on the horizon.
  3. You can adjust the depth of field. Adjusting the depth of field can allow you to choose whether your vanishing points should be in focus or not. You can make your image stand out by placing the vanishing points outside of focus. This will give your image more depth, much like a perspective drawing.
  4. Tone is important. Consider the tone of the image that you want to capture. Are you trying to capture a striking piece with stark colors and low lighting? Does it inspire hope or is it a bleak image? These are important questions to ask when deciding where your vanishing point should be in your overall frame.
  5. Move the vanishing line around your frame. After you have completed these steps, you can start to experiment with other options. It’s never too early to start exploring different vanishing points.