In my last “Tips” post, I wrote about the “when” of photography, that is, when do you push the shutter button. Another important aspect of great photography is “where” you push the shutter button or the Point of View. Going up and down in the horizontal plane of the camera sensor changes the Point of View of the image.
I have been in groups of photographers that all set their tripods next to each other (especially if they are with a pro photographer) so all of their cameras are at about the same height and all pointed at the same thing. They were all going to end up with the same or very similar images. I always try to get a different image than the group. So I not only moved to another view but I did not use my tripod or drastically changed the height that I set it at.
You may have heard the recommendation of getting down to a child’s level or down to eye level with a dog, to take their picture, this same idea applies to other subjects as well.,
I get down the lowest when I shoot shorebirds. Most nest in colonies on the sandy beach. So to get at eye level it means getting down right at the ground level. I lay on my stomach and use a special support called, fittingly, a Skimmer, for my ballhead, camera and lens. When you get this low the camera is right at eye level of the adults and just above the small chicks.
When I want to shoot the shorebirds flying by I sit on the shore just beyond the waves. When handholding the long & heavy telephoto 200-400mm lens this gives me a more steady base, the freedom to track flying birds and results in a slightly different point of view from what I would get if I was standing. This works really well with Black Skimmers as they fly by and skim through the water right in front of us.
Another subject that everyone shoots from the same point of view is flowers. Most folks stand over the flower(s) and shoot down on them capturing a view of a bunch of flowers, the leaves and the ground. Now, I will do that too but when I shoot from above I get very close to the flower to get a closeup of the parts of the flower.
Try getting down next to the flower or flowers. I love to do this when the sunlight is low in the morning or evening and it shines through the translucent petals of the flowers. Sitting on the ground gets you at the level of most flowers for these types of images.
Like with the baby birds, I have gotten down on the ground to get a different point of view of flowers. I have had my head in the dirt to shoot the bottom of a shorter flower. When I do this in public gardens I get many strange looks and many people ask if I am OK. But I get some terrific images from being down that low.
Always shoot flowers from all levels. That will give you a variety of images.
Another of my favorite subjects to shoot from close to the ground is cars! From eye level they are just another car but by shooting from about 20 inches from the ground, a car looks larger than life and takes on a personality! I use my tripod, a 24-70mm lens and shutter release for these. Knee pads come in handy, too!
You can work other subjects from different levels to get unique points of view. In Florida there are many Civil War reenactments and we have found that at most of the venues if we sit on the ground at the edge of the designated field of action, we get images from that lower level making the participants look larger & more powerful. Also, from that angle it seems to be easier to get the rifle blasts in the image.
I have used this low point of view shooting at Native American pow wows and rodeos as well.
Shooting from a lower level can help you eliminate clutter and distractions around your main subject. If I was shooting while standing, both the rider above and the dancer below, would have been surrounded by the cluttered background. The sky sets the subject apart.
It may seem strange but I often get down low to shoot landscapes. Getting the foreground subject in the image sometimes takes getting the camera lower. Since I purchased my wide angle 16-35mm lens I have really used it from a lower view point so that I get foreground, mid-ground and a wide view of the sky. In this image of the Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley my camera & I were down in the salt formations to capture these structure as well as the vista before me!
Sometimes it is better to go up higher than eye level. That is usually harder to accomplish than going lower but I have opened my tripod up to its highest height or stood on a bench or some other convenient object (like my SUV). Sometimes you need to go higher to eliminate unwanted items that are behind or right in front of your main subject. Looking at a subject from an unusual height gives you another point of view that we don’t usually see.
There were some distracting items in the background of the lotus, above. I shot some images from the side (this flower was about 4 feet above the surface of a pond and about 7-8 feet away) and then carefully stood on a rock next to the pond to get the inside of the flower. This eliminated the distractions and gave me one heck of a view!
In some places you can get to a higher vantage point to get that downward view that normally would not be seen from normal eye level. This also eliminates what was behind/beyond the subject.
The highest I have ever gone with a camera is from my drone. The coolest part of drone images is that totally different point of view. I am looking forward to doing more drone photography.
I know as we get older, that getting down thing is harder and harder, but I personally feel the special images I end up with are worth the bit of discomfort and occasional sore back & knees.
So move that camera up and down! You won’t regret it! Your travel photos will be from a totally different Point of View!
That is all for now!