A Rat’s Eye Perspective
Shooting from eye-level is the default position for most people, but why not see the streets in a different way-through the eyes of a rat! Rats are known to be resilient urban creatures, so what better way to photograph a gritty urban scene than to get down to their level? You don’t need to actually lie down on the pavement to do this-just use your LCD screen to see what you’re shooting (if you have a flip-up screen, your job is easy).
First, decide on the look you want to achieve. The point of focus, and therefore depth-of-field, is the most important consideration with this type of photography so think about what you need to focus on.
Will it be something very close to the camera, using a wide aperture to draw attention to the immediate object, or do you want the wider scene to be sharp, which will require a smaller aperture and focus to be set on the middle distance? Create four images that demonstrate the technique.
View the images
- Manual focus is often more accurate; autofocus might struggle to determine the correct point of focus because the ground is so close and will endlessly “hunt:’
- It can be great to do this in low light or at night, as the ground effectively acts as a tripod, allowing for longer exposures.
- Find some flat ground; it is important that your horizon is straight.
- Try to avoid having the horizon dead center in the frame; your images will be more visually pleasing if it is offset above or below the centerline.
- Wet pavements are great for this, especially in low light. It’s worth getting your knees wet for!
- Decide what you want to include and exclude in your shot; street detritus such as broken glass or cigarette ends can add to the composition, but they can also be an unwanted distraction.
- A right-angle finder (available for some 35mm and digital SLRs) or waist level finder (usually associated with medium format cameras) will be an asset.