Sequence viewing > Aesthetics Index - Resource - © Lloyd Godman

Linear perspective

Diagonals and Linear perspective - we perceive diagonal lines as receding into the distance.

The viewpoint selected for this image offers no sense of this.

However the strong diagonal lines in this image, also of a bridge create a extraordinary sense of depth.

As an example of one-point perspective, the diagonal lines converge on a single point on the horizon called the vanishing point. In one-point perspective, the horizontal and vertical lines are parallel with the sides of the image.



Vanishing point

Because the camera has a single lens, converging lines in and image point to a single vanishing point - they imply a sense of distance an perspective in an image. While these lines are often associated with architecture they can apply to any subject where there are lines or visual elements like a series of points that contribute to a line. Vanishing point is associated with the camera view point and also perspective.

Before the use of perspective and single point perspective, paintings and drawings typically sized objects and characters according to their spiritual or thematic importance, not in relationship to distance. In some areas like Medieval art, the work was designed to be read as a group of symbols, rather than seen as a coherent realistic picture.

Works from this period that represent architecture are a hodgepodge of conflicting lines in every direction. The optical basis of perspective was defined in the year 1000, when the Arabian mathematician and philosopher Alhazen, in his Perspectiva, first explained that light projects conically into the eye. This was, theoretically, enough to translate objects convincingly onto a painting, but Alhalzen was concerned only with optics, not with painting. From about 1400 artists began experimenting with perspective. Artists began using small portable versions of what became known as the camera obscura to aid them in drawing realistic representations of portraits, landscapes and architectural subjects. A thin piece of transparent paper was laid on the glass where the image formed and the artist traced the outline of the scene they wanted onto the paper. The camera obscura was directly responsible for the fascination and understanding of geometric perspective developed during the Renaissance and the rebirth of Classical culture.


So perspective, viewpoint, vanishing point are all integrally linked to the camera.




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