Change the View
Most photographs are shot from head height, so one very effective way to catch the viewer’s attention is to break with convention and shoot from a different viewpoint-creating a “worm’s eye” view of the world, for instance.
The secret to success with unconventional viewpoints is to identify the situations in which they are likely to work well. Choosing a low viewpoint can add drama by placing emphasis on the foreground and exaggerating linear perspective, but this can reduce the separation between key elements in the frame, merging foreground and background together, and reducing depth in the image. Raising the camera to shoot from a high viewpoint reveals the planes in a composition and opens up the middle distance, which can enhance a feeling of depth in an image, but if the middle distance is empty it can result in lack of structure in the composition. If you own a drone, you can elevate this part of the assignment to its highest extremes!
The task here is simple: shoot one scene that is enhanced by a low viewpoint and another that benefits from an elevated viewpoint.
This is an image-blending technique that allows you to create depth of field stretching from the immediate foreground to infinity. Shoot a series of images, focused at different points from foreground to background, with the depth of field overlapping. Open the images in Photoshop and create a stack: File – Scripts – Load Files into Stack. Select all the layers and align them: Edit – Auto-Align Layers. To blend the sharply focused parts of each layer into a single shot, click Edit – Auto-Blend Layers. Make sure the Stack Images box is checked.
View the images
- Not all tripods allow ground-level shooting-if yours doesn’t, bring a small beanbag with you to give your camera stability.
- Use your tripod’s center column to raise the camera above head height. Operating your camera like this can be tricky-a small step ladder can help.
- Shooting low means that foregrounds will be very close, so controlling depth of field is essential. Use a small aperture and the hyperfocal distance (see page 8) to keep everything sharp. If this still doesn’t create enough depth of field, try focus-stacking.
- It can be difficult to operate a camera that is set up either above your head or very low to the ground. Fortunately, most modern cameras have rear LCD screens that feature Live View, which means you can frame your shot and check shooting settings more easily. Even better, the majority of cameras now have tilting LCDs, which make experimenting with unconventional viewpoints even easier.
- Setting up on the ground created a dramatic perspective for this fall woodland shot, with the emphasis being placed on the leaves on the forest floor and the prominent golden leaf leading into the image. Because of the low viewpoint, the backlit tree looms large in the background. An aperture of f/22 and careful focusing ensured enough depth of field.