Pic of the Night – Perspective Distortion on Purpose

I’m not a big fan of vertical perspective distortion in photos. I prefer my trees, lighthouses, and buildings to stand up straight, thank you. But I have exceptions, as I do with any other “rule.” When it comes to architecture, it’s all or nothing. I want those vertical lines either parallel to the edge of the photo, or I want them so skewed that the distortion itself acts as an integral element in the photo.

St. Mark's Square at twilight

St. Mark's Square in Venice. Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35 f/2.8 lens, f/16, 6 seconds, ISO 200.

And when it’s skewed lines you want, the best way to get there in a hurry is to get up close to the subject with a wide-angle lens and tilt it up. But distortion without order is chaos, and chaos is usually a bad thing unless you’re shooting abstracts, so you still have to pay attention to the lines and mergers.

I shot this image in St. Mark’s Square in Venice in the last few minutes of evening twilight. The biggest challenge, other than trying to contort my middle-aged body into position to shoot, was tweaking the composition so that none of the four lights were blocked by the lamp post and that no part of the lamp post merged with the Campanile on the left or Doge’s Palace on the right. The image would fail otherwise.

Speaking of contortion, my joints were a little sore after making this image. Fortunately, I was able to find a nice spot to sit down and ease the pain. And wouldn’t you know it, it just happened to be a place that served red wine.

Ah, much better!

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