April Fool’s Day is approaching, and if you are thinking of a trick for your kids or grandchildren, you can do it with photo tricks. This can be done in several ways, but perhaps the most fun is the use of forced perspective—a way photographers use optical illusions to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger, or smaller than it actually is.
This is going to go over best with really young children. You can set up a shot to make the child look bigger or smaller than an object in the frame, and give it to the kid to “fool Grandma” or “fool Dad.” It takes a tiny bit of pre-planning but isn’t much work, and doing it creates a warm memory you share with the child.
You might want to use familiar objects that are part of the child’s everyday world—a stuffed toy, a porch railing, your car—for instance, you can set up a shot so that the child seems to be balancing the car on one upturned hand.
Photo manipulation and trick photography has been present since the beginning of the photographic medium in the 1800s. In 2012, an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York showed how photographers long before the digital era regularly employed techniques of manipulation in their work. Mia Fineman, assistant curator of photography at the Met, told PBS, “Fake decapitation was the LOLcats of the 19th century.”
Photo tip: For successful forced perspective shots, use a tripod; use a wide-angle lens, and an aperture to keep subjects in focus (f16 of f22). If you want to force perspective to create an illusion of size then use two subjects that are universally recognized–the palm of a hand and a car, or a fence post and a skier.
“Stay Posted” is from the series: Wish You Were Here