- Meet a New Kind of Tripod
- No Tripod? No Problem! Use One of These Alternatives
- How To Stabilize a Camera When You Don’t Have a Tripod
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A method for creating interesting images is low angle photography. Many items, places, and even people can look entirely different when captured in a low angle shot. Also, some subjects may only be accessible for any worthwhile images by using low viewpoint photography.
Let’s examine some low angle photography ideas, low angle photography composition tips, and what photography gear you can use to capture these views.
Low Angle Photography Gear
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Since many of the low angle photography tips will involve using some specific photography gear choices, we’ll start with this. Two things make low angle photography simple to shoot: a multi-angle or tiltable viewscreen, and a low to the ground camera mount. Okay, three things, add in a remote release, too.
When your camera is close to the ground or floor, that means your eye level viewfinder is as well. With certain older styles of film cameras, this was a simple fix. Using a 35mm camera with a removable prism, simply remove the prism and you get an unobstructed view of what the camera is seeing. A 120 roll film camera like a TLR had what was called a waist level viewfinder that you looked into from above.
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The only issue was that this gave an uncorrected mirror image view, so things on the right appeared to be on the right and so on. Modern digital cameras use a viewscreen that provides a properly corrected view. Use Live View, and you will see on the viewscreen what the camera is seeing.
If you can tilt the screen towards you, that makes composition a breeze. But, don’t scrap your camera or lose hope of doing low angle photography if your viewscreen is fixed. It’s still the best way to see the scene since you can view it from a distance and not require that your eye is an inch or so away from the camera.
Camera Mount or Tripod?
Since you probably need to adjust exactly where the camera is pointing, you should use a mount of some sort instead of merely laying your camera on the ground or the floor. Some tripods allow for very low level photography, but I also found a great camera mount I’ve been using ever since I first saw it.
In order to use a tripod for low angle photography, a few features or capabilities are in order. You either need the center column to be reversible, or you need the legs to spread out and the center column shortened. Many fine tripods used by landscape photographers have these features.
A great alternative to tripods is my new favorite camera mount, the OctoPad. The OctoPad is a very budget friendly tool that seems tailor made for low angle photography. It is a weighted, semi-rigid disk with a non-slip pad on the bottom and a ¼-20 screw thread on top.
Most of the time, the OctoPad is supplied with a ball head on top, but you can remove the ball head and add a multi angle extension arm for added versatility. The unique construction of the disk allows you to place the OctoPad on any surface, irregular or smooth, and the surface can be angled up to 45 degrees with no slippage while holding a camera and lens.
It’s a great tool for low angle photography since it can go virtually anywhere. It’s also cheap enough to have two or three on hand so you could also mount lights for stills or video or a microphone for video recording. It’s not a suction cup or a clamp, simply a weighted base with a camera mount. I love mine!
A remote release is also very useful for low angle photography, whether it’s long exposure or faster shutter speeds. Wired or wireless remotes are available for every DSLR or mirrorless I’ve handled for tests and reviews.
Low Angle Photography Ideas
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What subjects might work for low angle photography? Well, the simplest idea is that when you are taking pics of pets or small kids, you would get down on their level in order to capture a more natural appearance than painting down from on top of them.
Environmental portraiture is a fantastic opportunity to use low angle photography. It can really highlight the unique aspects of a person’s jobs, hobbies, or personality to have a from the ground up point of view.
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Architectural photography benefits from unique points of view including low angle photography. Especially so when the architecture has unique or unusual designs.
Nature photography is what my mind automatically goes to when I start thinking about low angle photography. Macro imaging benefits greatly from low viewpoint photography, but a low angle shot of a non macro subject also has great potential as well.
Low Angle Photography Composition Tips
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Photography composition tips encompass more than just ideas like the Rule of Thirds. Composition also covers depth of field and lens angle of view.
I like to recommend a wide angle lens and setting a small lens aperture for gaining deep depth of field for low angle photography images. Selective focus is open to us too, especially since we’re using our rear viewsreen to compose, frame, and focus, we’re not just guessing at what we’re shooting.
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If your camera has the ability to tether to another device such as a tablet, then you can pretty much compose, expose, and focus any way you want since you can see exactly what the camera is going to capture. Tethering works great in a studio or on location in a building of some type, but it can also work fantastically in nature, especially if it’s wireless tethering to a portable device.
Low Angle Photography for Profit!
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Opening our thoughts of photography composition to include low angle photography can result in images that show a different view of ordinary subjects. These out of the ordinary views are often captivating to viewers which can result in added sales if you're photographing these subjects for profit.
Taking advantage of modern camera technology such as moveable viewscreens, remote releases, wireless tethering, and camera automation for exposure and focus enables us to increase our creativity, whether we shoot for fun, for profit, or a mix of both. For many photographers, low angle photography is a great way to open up creative thoughts.