Photo by Scott Bourne
THE WORLD FROM FIVE FEET EIGHT INCHES
Most amateur pictures suffer from the same problem. They have all been taken from a height of five feet and eight inches. How do I know? That’s the height of most tripods. Too often, beginners just set their camera on a tripod, top it off to its maximum height, and blast away. That’s fine if you are photographing subjects that also happen to be five feet and six inches tall. Anything else, not so much.
THREE DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS
The most impressive angle for people and animal photographs is the eye level shot. Look at the picture of the North American Wolf above. She is at eye level, dead on. Notice the intimacy and impact of the image? By placing the camera at the animal’s eye level, I got the chance to enter the world of the wolf. And that’s important since it solves one of the most perplexing problems of photographic storytelling: point of view.
To better illustrate this, try an experiment with your home camcorder. Yes, you read it right, your camcorder. Go videotape a kid’s soccer game. Every time you shoot the home team, try to keep the video camera at eye level. When you videotape the visiting team, lie down on the ground and shoot just their feet as they run toward the goal.
Now, watch the playback. Play some happy music in the background when the home team has the ball and some ominous music when the visiting team has it. The power of point of view will become immediately clear.
We need to think in terms of the story we want to tell when we’re making photographs. Telling a story starts with having a point of view. And, in too many cases, the point of view in a photograph is the photographe’s point of view. But the prize-winning photographs are those made from the subject’s point of view.
Every tripod on the market has adjustable legs. Use them.