Photography Tip -- vanishing point

Vanishing Point example: f/11 ISO 200 1/640 -1 +/- handheld

This marks the first in what will be a continuing series of photography tips I will offer.  You can follow them if you find them useful by subscribing or checking back regularly.

The above photograph is an example of vanishing point composition.  The train tracks are of course parallel to each other, but they appear to converge at a distance.  Where they converge is the vanishing point.  This adds a sense of depth and dimension to a 2D photograph.  Besides train tracks, other subject matter that can be photographed using the vanishing point technique include:  tunnels, winding roads, guard rails, high walled paths.

These train tracks are across from the University of Tampa campus.  I know there are also train tracks in downtown Tampa and near the brewery at Busch Gardens.  If you live in an area that has a subway system, then you will have lots of vanishing point photography opportunities.

Vanishing point composition does not need to follow the rule of thirds for composition.  In fact, centering the vanishing point is often the most pleasing composition.  For train tracks, I like to put the camera as low to the ground as possible.  Using a tripod is a good idea too.  As always, set your focus about 1/3 of the way into the frame. 

Please post a link to your own vanishing point photograph in the comments below!

How I edited the photograph: 

  • RAW processed in Aperture (Nikon D300 default setting)
  • Exposure correction in Color Efex Pro 3
  • Tonal Contrast filter used in Color Efex Pro 3
  • Unsharp Mask in Photoshop CS4
  • Holga effect filter in Silver Efex Pro 3