Week 12: Forced Perspective – 2018 Trevor Carpenter Photochallenge

This week, we’re going play with Forced Perspective. Put simply, forced perspective is a fun optical illusion that can make big things look small, small things look big, near things look far, or far things look near. To do so, the photographer carefully arranges objects in the foreground and/or background to “trick” the viewer into thinking these objects are near each other, even when they’re not. It’s a fun technique that can be used to create some very creative, memorable photos.

[Note: If you are worried that this challenge looks a bit difficult, please see the “Don’t Panic!” section, below. As always, the admins or other group members are always here to help.]

Let’s dive into some examples:

Suzi holding the Leaning Tower of Pisa – Marty Portier

This is probably one of the most widely photographed examples of Forced Perspective: A tourist propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. By carefully aligning the subject against the background, you can create a fun, whimsical effect.


Forced Perspective (take 2) – whelleson

Naturally, not everyone has the luxury of traveling to Italy to take their weekly challenge photo. As shown above, there are great opportunities for forced perspective photos right at your own home.


Perspective – Michael Paul

Another great use of Forced Perspective is to play with the relative sizes of your subjects. In this case, placing one of the girls very close to the camera (and carefully posing her against the basketball net) gives the illusion that she is a giant. Adding the second girl beneath the net nicely contributes to the illusion.


Forced perspective – Victor Doyle

Note that forced perspective shots don’t necessarily need to have people. (Or, at least, the people don’t need to be the subject.) One common idea is to hold up a photo against the same scene of the photo, as shown above. If the photo has been taken many years prior, it can be particularly effective in showing how much (or how little) has changed over the years. As always, the only limit is your creativity.

Tips and Suggestions

Here are a few tips to help get you started:

  • Not surprisingly, this technique requires careful alignment of your subject(s). As such, a tripod can be very helpful to keep everything in place. If you don’t have a tripod, place your camera on a stable, flat surface, if possible.
  • Shadows on the ground can sometimes break the illusion. (Take a look at the woman’s shadow in the Leaning Tower of Pisa shot– it’s a bit out of place, were she actually a giant.) If possible, try to take the shot on an overcast day, so as to get even, soft lighting.
  • For the effect to work best, you want most everything in the shot to be in focus. As such, you want to use a narrow aperture, such as f/11, f/16, etc. Doing so will help keep everything in focus. As well, prefer a wide angle lens to a telephoto one, as a wide angle shot makes it easier to keep everything in focus.
  • Take lots of shots! Since this technique requires everything to align (near) perfectly, you might need to take lots of shots to get everything just the way you like it. Digital pictures are free, so don’t worry about taking a dozen throwaways to get one keeper.

Don’t Panic!

I know that some people get a bit overwhelmed with more technical challenges, but this one really isn’t as hard as it might seem. Remember: A thousand tourists a day take the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” shot, without breaking a sweat. I have no doubt that everyone in this group can take a great shot with a bit of effort and creativity. As well, note that you don’t need any special equipment to take forced perspective shots. You can use whatever camera you like– your cell phone, your point and shoot, a DLSR, or even your old Polaroid.

Of course, one of the best parts about our group is that we’re all here to help one another– if you get stuck or have questions, everyone will be happy to help!

Finally, don’t worry about taking a shot that people have done before. The point of this challenge is to get everyone to experiment with this technique. Just take a shot that you like; it doesn’t matter if a similar photo has been done a hundred or a thousand times before.

The Challenge

This week, I want everyone to take a photo that exhibits Forced Perspective. The choice is up to you: Make something look like a giant, make something small, have two things interact that couldn’t normally touch each other, or any other creative idea you can think of. (As above, don’t worry if an idea has been done before– just do something new for you.)

Get your camera, be creative, and have fun!

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to our active community on our Facebook GroupFlickr Group or 500PX group (or all three). Tag the photo:  #10thanniversaryphotochallenge #2018photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • The shot should be a new shot you took this week, for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2018 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.


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About Eric Minbiole

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with anything technical– electronics, computers, cameras, gadgets, etc. Growing up, I loved taking things apart to see what was inside. While I couldn’t always put things back together, I loved trying to figure out how things work. Because of my love for all things technical, I pursued a degree in Electrical Engineering, and currently work as a Software Engineer. I’ve been fascinated with photography ever since borrowing my parents 110 film camera when I was young. It’s been a great hobby ever since: I love experimenting with photos, and trying new things. I especially love technical and/or trick photography. (“Gimmicks!”, as my wife jokingly calls them 😉 ) While I’m comfortable with the technical side of how to shoot, I struggle more with the artistic side of what to shoot in the first place. This is one reason I quite enjoy this group: There are fun, interesting ideas each week. I joined PhotoChallenge as a participant in 2014, and am amazed at how much this group has helped me learn. Each week, I look forward to the fun, creative challenges that Steve, Trevor, Gary, and Jeremy put together. Most importantly, the weekly challenges give me the motivation to get out there and take photos each week. (Otherwise, I suspect my camera might be gathering dust on the shelf.) As well, interacting with the fantastic members of the group– discussing suggestions, techniques, what works, what doesn’t– has been an invaluable help. I am absolutely thrilled to join the PhotoChallenge team– I’ve learned so much from the group, and hope that I can give back a little bit. If you’d like to see some of my photos, please check out my flickr page.