In this video, Seán Duggan explains how to get creative with low-angle views when you’re using a mobile phone for photography. For more LinkedIn Learning videos about photography, click here.

Hey everybody, Sean here. Greetings from Nevada City, California. I’m at the Inn Town Campground. And I’ve been experimenting with shooting down low today. And the reason I want to bring this up is that so often with our camera phones, you know, most pictures I think are taken from a standing height. We see something interesting, we just raise the phone, take a shot and move on. But if you get down really low, the cool thing about that is you can see things that you don’t normally see. And I’m talking about really low like having the camera as close as possible to the ground.

Now, let me just go through some of the shots that I have been taken here. So as you can see here, I’m down as low as I could get there. I got the nice backlight of the sunlight on the moss, the railroad ties and the train tracks. And you know I just started looking around. I was trying my aim here. My goal for this project was to get as low as possible and find backlit details, details that you might often overlook as you pass through the world. So there’s just a lot of great things to discover. And the cool thing about taking on this sort of project is it really opens your eyes to the photographic possibilities in any location not just you know, a beautiful forest like this with cool railroad tracks.

This video is from Mobile Photography Weekly by Seán Duggan

So this was this pile of old brackets that are used to mount their rails to the ties. Look at this nice leaf here. Now this is a little bit of staging here, I did move the leaf into that position because I thought it would make a better composition. So a lot of possibilities with texture. And early in the morning here in the winter light we’ve got lots of nice backlight coming over the subjects.

Of course when you’re shooting into the sun as I was here, you’re going to maybe sometimes have issues with lens flare and you can see a little bit of that lens flare coming in right there. But what I was able to do is I was able to hold out my hand. Just kind of hold the hand out, you got to kind of pay attention to having your fingers come in. But by holding my hand out over the lens it just kind of blocked that sunlight, I was able to get a much cleaner shot of the rails there.

And then I got down really low to this junction of two tracks here, and I put on my Moment 18 millimeter wide angle lens. So you can see the difference there between just a regular shot with the built in default lens on the phone, and then here’s the wide angle. I was able to get a lot more information in the scene. I really like this one with the switch in the background there.

And you know, one of the realities about shooting low is that it may not be possible to get down low for everybody. Maybe it’s just not comfortable for you to get down that low, maybe you have problems with your knees. Maybe it’s just really wet out and it’s not that pleasant, you don’t want to be kneeling down. So one thing that I do in situations like that is that I have a selfie stick and I’ll use the selfie stick as a way to get down low and shoot. And I sometimes have to lean down and tap to focus and adjust the exposure but I don’t have to get all the way down and get on my hands and knees to take these sorts of shots. So this actually turned out pretty good and I was able to get really close to that little branch with the moss on it.

So the main point is when you’re out exploring to always look for different viewpoints, and getting the camera down low, can really help reveal some of those angles that you don’t often see. Now in terms of this location here, one thing I do want to mention since I’m standing on railroad tracks is that this is a track that’s not currently in use and it’s on private property. Always got to be careful around railroad tracks.

Lead photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash