How do you turn a three-dimensional world into two dimensions?

Last month I had the privilege of embarking on a personal project in a photography safari in Kenya. It was an experience like no other. On the way up to the expanses of the Kenyan savannah, the views are spectacular, the air is clean and clear, the sunrises are cool and the sunsets are full of colorful clouds. Roaming beside the road are herds of zebras, gnu, buffalo and antelopes. All your senses are alert, your eyes refuse to shut for even a second. One day we stopped our drive in the savannah when we came across six lionesses hiding under the tall grass. They were watching a family of giraffes, slowly moving away from each other and flanking the giraffes, waiting for the right moment. Witnessing lionesses attacking giraffes is a rare sight in the wild. Giraffes are very tall and strong, and the lionesses understand that the energy needed for the attack won’t necessarily pay off, which is why they’re better off working as a team. I was curious to see what would happen. After a long wait, the giraffes noticed the predators and the element of surprise was lost. The giraffes fled towards the horizon. The lionesses failed at their attempt, but I succeeded at illustrating distance and perspective.

 Creating an illusion of depth in a photograph is accomplished using a well-known technique from the art world called one-point perspective. This technique can be seen in da Vinci’s The Last Supper. One-point perspective uses a convergence of lines from the edges of the picture leading to the “vanishing point” (the meeting point of the lines). This point can be anywhere in the image, as long as all of the lines lead to it. This technique is mainly used to lead the eye to the horizon. Though there are photographs that use a two-point perspective, in which the lines lead to two different vanishing points, we won’t delve into it.

There are different ways to create a sense of depth: light and shadow, perspective, use of lines, lenses with different focal lengths. The proper use of perspective can create depth and three-dimensionality in an image that is actually two-dimensional. As a photographer, I strive to create volume and depth in my images, and create within them a world that can be “traveled” in.

3 steps are required to create depth in a photograph:

  1. Choosing the subject whose location will define our vanishing point (the tree); b. Locating the lines through which we will direct the viewer’s eye (the path) – the line can also be imaginary, such as three giraffes standing diagonally from bottom right to top left; c. Lastly, approaching or moving away from the object.

In close-range shooting, objects that are closer to us will appear bigger, and objects that are further away will appear smaller (like in the photograph of the two giraffes). As you approach an object, its distance from other objects increases, creating deep perspective. You can heighten that feeling using a wide lens.


If we move away and use a long zoom, we can make two objects that are far apart from each other look like they’re close on the same plane, creating flat perspective (like in the photo of the giraffe and the bat).


Move closer to magnify, move away to shrink!


It’s important to take into consideration: the use of deep perspective enhances landscapes, but is unflattering when used for photographing people, magnifying unnecessarily and creating a distortion.

1 thought on “How do you turn a three-dimensional world into two dimensions?”

  1. I’m grateful for sharing such good content on your blog. Your approach to explaining the intricacies of photography turns your posts a delight to read.
    It’s clear that considerable skill and dedication is invested in your work, making it a valuable resource
    for photography enthusiasts like me. Keep up the great work, and thank you for enriching our understanding
    of photography. Best regards, Anja

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