Photography Tips – A Different Point of View

We don’t always talk about Photoshop Training and InDesign Training, sometimes we talk about photography! In this post, Heather Buckley gives her tips on shooting photographs from ‘A Different Point of View’…

I’ve been asked to name, judge and instruct a group of photographers’ work in response to a theme. The attendees will be of mixed ability some just starting out and some experienced photographers.

I’ve decided on the theme “A different point of view” because experimenting with the infinite possibilities in which something can be viewed often leads to capturing an image that is simply different. It forces the photographer to examine endless ways in which an object, person or environment can be seen and come up with something that will capture the viewer’s imagination.

Tim Andrews - Alternative Viewpoints

This is an image of Tim Andrews, a retired solicitor who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He has got nearly 200 photographers to take his picture now. To get this image I am leaning over the next lane and placing the camera in the middle of his lane. Try taking images from places you cannot get to but you can place your camera.

Even the most experienced of photographers can get stuck in a rut. When you eventually develop something that resembles a style, a way of looking at things that others recognise as being “your thing” it’s easy to start looking at everything in the same way. Repeating your successes, and automatically taking an image in a particular way.

In many ways this can take the fun out of photography. For me the best kicks happen when you try something completely off the wall, not really knowing if it’s going to work or not and landing an ace. Of course there will be many failures along the way, even famous names have bad days, a card full of 2’s of spades, void of those exhilarating aces.

Beginners often beat themselves up about it, maybe because they are still trying to convince themselves that they have talent. It’s important to view your experimental days as just that – experimental. Those images that didn’t work give you the opportunity to learn, ask yourself why it didn’t work and what you could have done differently. Also it’s important to remember that those photographers that you love only publish a fraction of their work, you don’t get to see the thousands of images that didn’t make the grade.

What I am trying to stress is never, never avoid taking an image because you are afraid it won’t work. Also, that if it doesn’t work, you have still learned something useful, and it has helped you to identify something in the image that could work, and you can add that to your toolbox next time you go out shooting.

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2437/3625855908_bd3473d729_o.jpg

This image taken at the Brighton Naked Bike Ride was taken with the camera resting on the bench.

Opportunities are everywhere. Even the most mundane of subjects can somehow be brought to life if taken in a way that makes the viewer think.

Of the endless choices that you make before clicking the shutter, one of the most important decisions to make, the one that will ultimately have the most impact on your image, is where you are (or your camera is) in relation to your subject.

Get Down

One technique that it often associated with my images is getting down low. A really easy technique that has a dramatic impact on an image. It distorts the view of a scene, it’s different for the view because people don’t go around lying on the floor and looking up at everything, it provides them instantly with a way of viewing something in a way that they don’t see every day.

Shooting Upwards

Get down on the floor or at least put your camera down on the floor and point the lens towards your subject. Try using flash, and have your lens as wide as it will go.

It distorts perspective. With people it makes their head much smaller, especially when taken with a wide-angle lens. Their feet look huge. They appear a lot bigger.

Remember that if you are shooting upwards your subject will probably be back-lit. It’s a good idea to use flash, even the fill flash on a compact will give your subject more light whilst retaining detail in the sky.

Brighton Pride - Shooting Up

Brighton Pride – Shooting Up – Here I am holding the camera down low and walking backwards to take the shot

The advantage of shooting upwards is that you can get nice clean backgrounds, but some of your subjects might not like the unflattering double chin look!

Blue Boy Brighton's Children's Parade

Blue Boy Brighton’s Children’s Parade

With landscape, You will get the foreground detail in the image, the foreground will appear large in the frame. Foregrounds in shots really add depth. You can make the viewer feel like they were standing in the scene. The foreground adds context, perspective and interest.

Get low and shoot up with landscape

Get low and shoot up with landscape

Watch out for focusing though. Make sure you are using the smallest aperture you can (bigger F numbers) whilst keeping the shutter speed fast enough to hand hold (unless you have a beanbag on the ground or are steadying your camera somehow). Remember a wide-angle lens can be handheld at lower shutter speeds.

If in doubt stick in P Mode and focus on the foreground, look at the camera settings and if you think it could be better with more of the background in focus then increase the F number and re-shoot.

I take images from the ground so often that I can usually see in my head what I’m going to get if I put the camera to the ground and shoot. A wide-angle lens or even a fish eye makes this process a lot easier, much less chance of chopping off heads or feet. Just have a go at this using the widest your lens will allow you to go. I still lie on the ground a lot too!

Birdseye view

A lot of drama can be added to an image by looking down. there are many famous images of the shadows people and objects make when looking down on them from an elevated position.

Shoot Downwards

Stand on tiptoes and lean right over your subject holding it as high as you can.

It can work with people too. It makes their head look enormous and their feet tiny. The perspective distortion is again much more obvious when shooting with a wide angle lens.

Looking down with a wide angle lens

Looking down with a wide-angle lens

If your lens is wide enough you can tippy toe and lean over to take what looks like an aerial view.

Turn it around

You should always have your horizon straight – right? Wrong! Try taking images on the diagonal, or even just a bit squiff.

Play with slanting horizons

Play with slanting horizons

 

This works well, as with any technique, when the treatment says something about the subject. Is your subject a bit squiff? Do you want your image to look like a grabbed and hurried moment?

Crooked - New York

Crooked – New York

Turn it upside down

Easiest opportunities for this sort of image are reflections in water, and shadows.

Brighton Pride - Turn your images upside down

Brighton Pride – Turn your images upside down

Try and think about this before you click the shutter. You will need at least as much reflection or shadow as the subject. Sometimes you can cut off the subject altogether and just take an image of the reflection or shadow that is representing your subject.

Turn it upside down - Kew Gardens

Turn it upside down – Kew Gardens

Take one image then turn your camera upside down and look at it that way. Think of how you would improve the composition and reshoot. This is always better done in camera than as an afterthought, you will be surprised how different it will look to how you imagined – try it.

Reflections

When taking reflections you can have great fun getting images of people who don’t know they are being photographed. Shops provide plenty of opportunities for this, allowing you to capture the street and inside the shop together. Mirrors are a common theme in photography, look out for them in the street.

Look out for mirrors on the street

Look out for mirrors on the street

Glass is everywhere, keep looking at reflections as you walk through the streets. Experiment with the above, look up, look down, put your camera somewhere where your face wont go!

A technique I often use is putting the camera (wide-angle again) as close to a reflective surface as it can get and shooting from there.

Another point of view

I can think of many other ways to get alternative points of view. Try looking through things that diffuse or distort images. Try making something very big look very small or vice versa, just by getting close and shooting wide.

You can also look out for odd relationships between people or things. Find strange similarities between usually unrelated subjects, or obvious differences between people or objects in an image.

Find things that don't look right together

Find things that don’t look right together

You can come up with your own ideas.

Conclusion

Whether you are reading this to prepare for the task or just for some inspiration, remember your viewpoint will have more impact on your image than any other decision you make.

I can think of other interpretations of this theme too. You can interpret the theme any way you wish. A different point of view could be a comical, social or political comment captured by putting together different objects or people who make the viewer think.

Have some fun, experiment.

 

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  5. Photography Tips – Engage With Your Subject

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Heather Buckley


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7 Comments

Forest Eyes says:

Thank you for this Heather, it will have taken some time to produce, but the content is great and I have taken onboard a few points.

R. x

Viki Gaul says:

Wow…thank you for this inspiring piece…I will be thinking outside the box and paying more attention to opportunities that are ‘just there’. I would love to have been a member of the group…I bet it was fantastic. thanks again…By the way this is the first thing that has been of real interest to me since I joined this discussion group. I was ready to say no to further posts and now will wait and see what else might pop up.
From Nova Scotia, Canada

Andrea Palmer says:

I really enjoyed reading this article and looking at the images. I like to photograph portraits and wedding in this way, my clients always love the images, but i do agree not so flattering for the chin unless you get them to tilt their heads slightly upward into the sky, then lay on the ground slightly to the side of the subject and using the wide angle lens, wait for the breeze to blow the dress AND WOW it looks amazing, very moody

Mark says:

Great Photos and great tips, thanks Heather

Chris Hawkes says:

Thank you, Heather – an inspiring piece. It reminds me to think more about the shot and less about the gear!

BTW, I find the swivel screen on the Canon 60D a real help in composing using unusual viewpoints (less neck-strain trying to look through a viewfinder for a low pov!)

Heather Buckley says:

Chris,

Thanks for commenting ;)

Yes, good point, I do use the swivel sometimes, though sometimes it slows me down too.

Really good for subjects that don’t move much.

Heather

Rhian White says:

As I photograph dogs I spend most of my time on the floor and it really does make a huge difference to the quality of photographs I get. But this really helpful guide has given me lots of new ideas to try out. Many thanks.

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