Written by Marjorie Dawson

Scale the Heights #21

Scale the Heights #21

This week we scale the heights with our photographs. I even managed to find a cat photo for this weeks tough 52 Assignments book challenge. The assignment encourages you to add a person for scale. I managed to find one (reasonable) cat for scale but I think you might do better with your photos!

The first shot I have chosen for the scaling the heights challenge gives you the sweep of a coastline and shows people on the left to indicate the height of the cliffs. It’s an interesting shot, because while the cliffs are not very high, you set a sweep of coastline and water and a tint of rose to show that sunset is coming. Frustratingly, there is no assignment for sunsets!

  • The sample in the book is of a place called the Midway Ice Castle by Kirsten Alana on Instagram. The Ice Castle feed is well worth a look for its amazing colours too. Many of these images definitely fit the scale the heights challenge.
Beach view with figures on the right © 20TwentyPhotos

Shoot someone against a backdrop or object. Your “for scale’ person should be far enough into shot you can see them all.

Adam Juniper, 52 Assignments Instagram

Scaling the Heights Tips

The photo for this assignment is not meant to be about the person it’s about the place. You are meant to be capturing the scale and drama of a landscape, or a particular area or thing.

Because of this, it’s helpful if the person is far enough away not to be identifiable.

The photo of myself by San Franciscos iconic Bridge is almost a selfie but I hope you get some idea of the scale of the bridge as I was not stood too far away. The towering uprights are impressive at any distance.

This was also my fourth attempt to see the Bridge, thanks to my blogging friend Savvy’s mom who took and also let us ride the famous cable cars!

Me by the Golden Gate Bridge – Samsung Compact Camera © DashKitten

How Do I Make My Figure More Abstract?

In the photo challenge there is emphasis on the figure being far enough away not to be identified. How would you do this? Thankfully the book gives you some ideas.

  1. Your figure can be walking away, maybe walking an adventure cat or a dog.
  2. The person can have their back to the camera admiring the subject of the photo (say, a view or a landscape).
  3. Capture a person and pet in silhouette against a brighter view.
Girl taking a photo by the shore
Girl taking a photo by the shore – © Garloon

This shot shows a girl posing on a rocky shoreline taking her own photos, you could say it fits no. 2 of the list.

You can see the expanse of the ocean and a hint of the crashing waves. The landscape is wide and there is a lot of interesting texture, as well as some subtle and chilly colours and, if you look, there is a shadowy ship on the horizon.

Where’s the Cat Scaling the Heights?

I knew you would ask, so I went looking through my cat photographs.

It took some doing as cats in sweeping landscapes isn’t much of a ‘thing’ for me. But, I managed to find a couple of interesting shots one is distant from the camera, and one is looking upwards.

For your cat to scale the heights it might be up on a high fence or walking along a shelf in a catio, or like Toulouse perch high up in a cat tree with the smartphone tited upwards.

If you are inside, think a bit differently as your idea of heights is going to be different. You might lie flat on the floor, or sit down and take a snapshot looking sharply upwards. Your cat will look far away, and maybe you will get a totally different perspective on the cat’s point of view even if you do get a bit dusty chasing the shot!

Cat in dim smartphone light
Toulouse, Smartphone Low Light – iPhone 12
Natasha the cat in a Tree
Natasha In A Tree – iPhone 6s

Thoughts on the Scaling The Heights Challenge

This challenge was quite specific, portraying nature and the sense of scale when people are in a shot but not the focus of it. As this is not something I have ever done it has given me a new project to try out, especially when we travel to the South Island and Christchurch next year.

The challenge made me realise how much I try to keep people out of my holiday photographs of scenery? Do you do this too?

More Posts You Might Enjoy:

Marjorie Dawson

Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can shoot and edit wonderful pictures they love regardless of the camera they use.

She is a Professional member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.

11 thoughts on “Scale the Heights #21”

  1. Nice challenge. I am always shooting scenery with no people in them – drives my husband crazy! He says with no people it just looks like a postcard. I love these types of photos, with height and scale. I’ve taken a lot of them of my dogs – there’s one of Icy on a cliff with shoreline below and a lighthouse in the distance that I just love. The first photo here reminds me of it.

  2. Love that pic of Toulouse and you with the bridge! When I do landscape photography, I do actually try to keep people out of it if they are passersby. Otherwise I enjoy having a family member or pet pose in the foreground. All great tips (as usual!) Have a safe and Happy 4th!

  3. Ha! I do the same thing when taking photographs. I try my best to avoid getting people in my shot in the background. Most times, people see and pause out of respect, but others don’t pay attention or at no fault of their own (earbuds). I’m glad you got to see the San Francisco bridge up close. And I love that high low with Toulouse. Great shot! So dramatic.

    • Me too, I can see how he makes you think that sometimes a person can add a bit of perspective, but sometimes I know I just don’t want them in my phtos!

  4. I love these challenges for taking photos. Some of the best photos I have of Henry is when I’ve gotten on the floor or lower than him. That’s a terrific tip!

    I’m sharing these tips and challenges with all my pet parents! One day we’ll all take great photos of the fur kids.

  5. Interesting and when doing nature photos I try to avoid anything anything else but the photo I want excluding Madam of course, she can bomb every photo LOL. I love learning from you

  6. Oh I totally try to avoid having humans in my photos of landscapes! Using them for scale is an interesting concept though, and something I’ll have to try.

  7. I tend to avoid people in my photos unless the photos are about the actual people! I don’t like being caught in photos so this may be me projecting my feelings onto others…LOL

    • Having people in is often a necessary evil in tourist areas. I did read that France does not allow photography of people without their permission in public places.


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.