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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.

Join the conversation! 16 Comments

  1. I liked the flip screen on the back of my older Olympus 8080 that allowed me to do way low angle stuff without
    having to get down on one’s belly. I’d like to see a heads up display plug into a digital SLR that would show you a
    an image when you held camera over your head or way down low. A small display in an eyepiece that would at the least show you framing would be neat. I like taking very low angle shots of street rods and race cars. Tough when you
    have too lay down in a crowd!

  2. I liked the flip screen on the back of my older Olympus 8080 that allowed me to do way low angle stuff without
    having to get down on one’s belly. I’d like to see a heads up display plug into a digital SLR that would show you a
    an image when you held camera over your head or way down low. A small display in an eyepiece that would at the least show you framing would be neat. I like taking very low angle shots of street rods and race cars. Tough when you
    have too lay down in a crowd!

  3. This is common among new armatures like my self, we concentrate on the viewfinder so much we fail to look at our point of view. Like a boxer you won’t get far if you keep throwing the jab each round it all gets a little to much of the same old same old. Remember to get up high or down low on you belt buckle. You just might be surprised at what you find

  4. This is common among new armatures like my self, we concentrate on the viewfinder so much we fail to look at our point of view. Like a boxer you won’t get far if you keep throwing the jab each round it all gets a little to much of the same old same old. Remember to get up high or down low on you belt buckle. You just might be surprised at what you find

  5. This holds true especially when photographing children or pets. If you take it looking down, it makes the subjects look dwarfed. But if you get down to their level, or even lower, then they can look almost heroic.

    Look at photos of action heroes. You never see a photo of Indiana Jones taken from above. They’re always shot low to make him look more powerful.

  6. This holds true especially when photographing children or pets. If you take it looking down, it makes the subjects look dwarfed. But if you get down to their level, or even lower, then they can look almost heroic.

    Look at photos of action heroes. You never see a photo of Indiana Jones taken from above. They’re always shot low to make him look more powerful.

  7. Photographing children works by the same rule. If you want compelling pictures of children, You have to get down on the ground and crawl around with them.

  8. Photographing children works by the same rule. If you want compelling pictures of children, You have to get down on the ground and crawl around with them.

  9. I totally agree my little league baseball pics are always much better when I can sit on the field at or below eye level of the players. I am currently in a mode of avoiding tripod or flash and shooting everything hand held at higher ISO so that I can stay very mobile and try many different angle and viewpoints.

  10. I totally agree my little league baseball pics are always much better when I can sit on the field at or below eye level of the players. I am currently in a mode of avoiding tripod or flash and shooting everything hand held at higher ISO so that I can stay very mobile and try many different angle and viewpoints.

  11. Good advice indeed.

    What was the tip Scott gave during one of the podcast’s concerning composition? He had a little acronym for the shooter to use while assessing the image in the viewfinder. I’ve not been able to find it as it was a quick mention in one of the podcasts.

    I shoot sports mostly and consider kneepads as essential as the camera itself. Shots taken from a low angle are far more dramatic than those taken while standing, especially of younger high school athletes.

  12. Good advice indeed.

    What was the tip Scott gave during one of the podcast’s concerning composition? He had a little acronym for the shooter to use while assessing the image in the viewfinder. I’ve not been able to find it as it was a quick mention in one of the podcasts.

    I shoot sports mostly and consider kneepads as essential as the camera itself. Shots taken from a low angle are far more dramatic than those taken while standing, especially of younger high school athletes.

  13. I made a blog post about this here: http://megapixelicio.us/2008/05/aim-for-sky.html

    I go a little further and applied to same concept to architecture shots.

  14. I made a blog post about this here: http://megapixelicio.us/2008/05/aim-for-sky.html

    I go a little further and applied to same concept to architecture shots.

  15. […] Scott at TWIP wrote an article about point of view, or as he call it, camera angle. Go read it and come back. […]

  16. […] Scott at TWIP wrote an article about point of view, or as he call it, camera angle. Go read it and come back. […]

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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