What is a Vanishing Point?

Vanishing point occurs when two parallel lines appear to be converging in the distance. This is a perspective phenomena that occurs in general vision and is not unique to photography or special lens. However, photographers and artists take advantage of it to create the impression of depth in a two dimensional medium.

How it Works

In order for vanishing point to occur, our lens needs to be positioned so that it is parallel to the parallel lines. This will create the illusion that the lines that start in the front of the picture will meet at a vanishing point that is either inside the picture or just outside of it. If the lens is not parallel to these lines then the vanishing point effect will not occur.

Vanishing Point and Landscape Photography

The lens needs to be seeing a large area in order for the vanishing point effect to register with the viewer. Because of this, landscape photography is where the use of vanishing point is most often seen. Roads, train tracks, piers and other large man-made structures created with parallel lines all make excellent subjects for vanishing point photography. 

People and animals are not usually found in photos utilizing vanishing point as they tend to be distracting from the effect and can cause the composition of the shot to appear crowded and sloppy.