One of the big mistakes most people make when taking pictures is they way they stand-or rather that they stand. Kodak taught us long ago to hold the camera to our eye and steady ourselves before snapping the picture. What resulted from this was a generation of photographers who learned to take pictures at 4.5 feet off the ground.
Just thumb through your picture albums and you will see that most pictures of children have the ground or the floor as the background because the parent is shooting down on them. How much more engaging is a picture when we put ourselves in the perspective of the subject?
A child will always look better when photographed at eye level. The same is true of many other objects. I was out shooting wildflowers at Big Woods State Park yesterday and this was on my mind. Actually a lot of things were on my mind. Last week’s article was about a different trip to Big Woods where I concentrated on using flash in bright daylight. This trip was the same except that I was concentrating on using flash that wasn’t affixed to the camera.
This photograph is only possible when you have the flower at eye level. Unless your flower grows five feet tall or you have a convenient ditch in which to stand, you are going to have difficulty getting this perspective on a subject.
I laid on my stomach for this shot but was propped up on my elbows so the camera saw about 12 inches from the ground. It matched the height of the blossom nicely.
Sometimes it is necessary to get even lower if your subject is particularly low or you are adjusting the placement of the background in your image.
This shot of an emerging bloom was taken from about 6 inches off the ground. In order to move the orange glow closer to the blossom and give the top of the frame a little more interest. From a little higher placement at capture, I would have moved the lower part of the background higher in the picture and lost some of that delicious orange color that makes the image for me.
A little off camera flash to the right lights the flower and leaves the background dark. Leaving me with a flower that pops and a background that compliments but does not compete.
Other times you dig down deep to get some foreground in shot. This can be particularly helpful in creating an artistic context to the shot.
In this shot, the camera is two inches off the ground and I am using the foreground grass as a diffusion element to give an impressionistic feel to the image. This flower was in total shade so I didn’t use a flash , being satisfied with the soft light as it was.The shallow depth of field of the macro lens enhances the dream-like quality of the image and makes it softer and more painterly without having to resort to software.
Bottom line is get to the bottom. Go low to match your subject’s perspective and you will be rewarded with pictures that look nothing like a snapshot.