Your viewpoint when you take a photograph can often transform an everyday scene into something altogether more eye-catching. The three key things that can affect the point of view are: the focal length of your lens, the angle you take the shot from, and your height in relation to your subject.
Photographers can dramatically change the type of picture they produce by changing the focal length of the lens. This change is also called changing the field of view. A telephoto lens of 100mm or longer will appear to compress your shots, while using a wide-angle lens will reveal a lot more of the scene. This is an important consideration when choosing the point of view of your photographs, as a different field of view may restrict the number of angles you can shoot from.
Compression: this photo was taken looking straight ahead. A 220mm focal length appears to compress the cars.
It goes without saying that you can take photos from any number of angles, whether it’s looking down at your feet or craning your neck and looking straight up. However, the angle can be divided into three broad sections: looking down, looking ahead, and looking up.
Photographs that are taken when you’re looking down are most likely going to be shot from a high vantage point such as a tall building, a hill, or perhaps even an airplane. You don’t have to be really high to use this ‘top down’ perspective—just so long as you’re higher than your subject.
Shooting straight up (or straight down) at a spiral staircase is a tried and trusted technique.
The most common angle you will shoot at is straight ahead, which is the way we normally see the world. What might make this angle more dramatic is your height in relation to your subject.
Looking up is the final angle, and the one that you’re most likely to miss if you’re not properly exploring an area; while we often look ahead and down, it is less common for people to look straight up. There are times where this angle can be very effective though, such as when using a wide-angle lens between tall buildings, or getting down on the ground to shoot a flower.
As well as the angle you’re shooting at, the height of your camera is also going to have a bearing on your point of view. It can sometimes be good to take photos from a very low position, and while you might lose a bit of dignity crawling around on all fours, you could get a great shot. If you’re going to be taking photos at ground level, having an angle-finder on your camera is a good idea, as it will enable you to use the viewfinder. A low height is often needed when taking photos of reflections, as the closer you get to
the reflecting surface the better your reflection is going to be.
Get down low for an immersive feel.
Conversely, you may well find that getting high up will give you a much better vantage point for a shot. If it’s possible, going to the top of a tall building in a city, especially at night, can get you some great results. If you’re a hiker, then climbing mountains may also be a way of taking photos from a higher vantage point.
In Simple Scene Sensational Shot, Simon Bond shows you how to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. From altering your angles to trying out HDR and making the most of bad weather, any situation can be turned into a superb shooting opportunity.
Simple Scene Sensational Shot
Buy it now!
RRP for print edition: £14.99