Thursday, May 20, 2010

#8 Exploring Perspective

We all have to decide what we will use as our subject to make a photograph, but that is just the beginning of the image creation process.  The next thing we must decide is where (what perspective) to capture the image from.

My old Bogen (Manfrotto) tripod allows me to remove and invert the center column.  This allows positioning of the camera just inches above the ground as in the image above.

There are a few basics to think about when choosing the best perspective for capturing your image.  The first thing to remember is that your zoom lens should never be used as a replacement for your feet.  If you want to get close up, get as physically close to your subject as possible and then zoom in if necessary.  Second, keep in mind the fact that adult eye-level is by far the most common perspective making it the most difficult perspective to use in creating really interesting images.  Old twin lens reflex cameras (Mamyia C330, Yashicamat 124G) have pop up viewfinders that the photographer looks down into when composing the image (the same is true for the Hasselblad).  Because you have to look down into it, the photographer normally holds the camera at a position of about three feet - significantly lower than the normal 35mm or DSLR perspective.  Images taken at this lower angle have a magical way of reminding us of childhood when we all saw the world from a much lower perspective.  This lower perspective is also often preferred for portraits.

The important thing is to be aware of your position and don't allow yourself to be tied to the same old adult eye level perspective all of the time.  The greatest thing about digital photography is the freedom we have to experiment and explore without having to use up finite resources such as film and chemistry.  Try seeing the world from different angles.  A well chosen perspective can help you achieve superior results.