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How to Show Size

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If you’ve ever had a chance to photograph something like the California redwood trees or a huge rock formation out in Utah’s Monument Valley, you’ve probably been disappointed that when you looked at those photos later, you lost all sense of their size. In person, those redwoods were wider around than a truck. In your photos, they could’ve been the regular pines in your backyard, because they lost their sense of size. That’s why, when trying to show the size of an object, you need something in that shot to give the object a sense of scale. That’s why many photographers prefer to shoot mountains with people in the scene (hikers, climbers, etc.) because it instantly gives you a frame of reference—a sense of scale that lets the viewer immediately have a visual gauge as to how large a mountain, or a redwood, or the world’s largest pine cone really is. So, the next time you want to show the sheer size of something, simply add a person or a familiar object to your shot and you’ve got an instant frame of reference everyone can identify with. It’ll make your shots that much stronger. (Note: By the way, this also works for things that are very small. Put the object in someone’s hands, and it instantly tells the story.)

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