Travel Theme: Perspective

Spatial relationships are a funny thing. Look at something from directly above or dead center. Now look at it from down low, up high, or off to the side, and you’ve instantly got a new perspective. You know the trees haven’t moved and the monument hasn’t shrunk, yet there might appear to be change in relative depth, distance, or size.

Take, for example, a fun little greenspace called Parque Francisco Alvarado in Zarcero, Costa Rica. Walking a few feet around a hedge gives us a completely different perspective of straight vs. zig-zag, order vs. chaos, kempt vs. hallucinatory. Looking at the photosynthetic tunnel from a different angle, I momentarily wonder if I’ve got Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.



One step to the right…two steps back…hold it! And, literally, you’re holding it – the rainbow, that is. Turns out, you can hold rainbows in the palm of your hand. I bet if I stand between the double rainbows and strike a pose like an Egyptian hieroglyph, I can “emit” both bursts of color. Ooh, would that be, like, a superpower? Moss Landing, Monterey, California, USA.



That space between your eye (or your viewfinder) and your subject; that angle from which you choose to render an image or a memory; your personal preferences: These all contribute to the unique and widely varied perspectives we all have of the exact same objects, people, and places.

Here I am in a hot-air balloon over Cappadocia, Turkey. Am I taking a levitating selfie? Standing on the edge of a cliff? Did I Photoshop myself into the craggy backdrop? Nope, the shot is simply a panoramic close up so the balloon’s hardware isn’t visible.



On a similar note, this perspective makes the Ozone no Taki (Ozone Waterfall) at Tokugawa Garden appear larger and wilder than it actually is. Nagoya, Japan.



Varying perspectives can render dimensions accurate or distorted, details emphasized or de-emphasized, distended, obscured, and so on. Left: In a contrast of sizes, I’m a tiny thing atop a watchtower of the Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors) in Sintra, Portugal. Right: Conversely, I appear tall beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France – despite the arch towering over me.



Speaking of optical illusions, I’m a giant in Pisa, Italy. Ah, the iconic tourist photographs….



You know what would have made a great addition to this post? A photograph in the Uyuni Salt Flats of Bolivia. Here are some fun shots from Instagram – no Photoshop necessary! (The second is a video, so be sure to press play.) Travel genie, take me there!


Let’s try altering viewpoints. The Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square) of Vatican City in Rome, Italy, appears quite different when viewed from the elevated cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica and from the ground level of the piazza itself. Throw in a change of lighting from early morning to late night and, if you didn’t know any better, you might mistake photographs of the contrasting perspectives for two separate locales.



Whether from a linear or an aerial perspective, there’s no denying that varying perspectives produce variable perceptions. Let’s close with this: I’m no Victoria’s Secret angel, but if I model myself just right, I might just get my wings. The Venetian, Macau, China.