- What Is Low-Angle Landscape Photography?
- When To Use Low-Angle Landscape Photography
- What Equipment Is Helpful for Low-Angle Photography?
- How To Capture Low-Angle Landscape Photography
- General Landscape Photography Tips
- Recommended Photography Gear
- Outdoor Photography Gear You Need Before Your Next Trip
- 4 Essentials for Hiking Photography
- How to use Leading Lines in Photography Composition (With Examples)
Photo by borchee via iStock
Low-angle landscape photography is a proven method for creating or including foreground interest in landscape photography. There are other good reasons why you should use low-angle landscape photography that can be incorporated into your general landscape photography.
Join me as I discuss when to try low-angle views in your landscape photography, how to capture low-angle landscape photography, what equipment is useful for it, and some other general landscape photography tips.
Table of Contents:
What Is Low-Angle Landscape Photography?
Photo by cinoby via istock
Let’s describe what low-angle landscape photography is. Many times, when we’re out taking pictures of anything, we are standing up, and our camera is at eye level.
Even when using a heavy-duty tripod for my landscape photography, I often find myself setting up the tripod so that the camera height is close to my head, maybe lower. So, many photographs get made with the camera and lens about 72” inches (5 feet) above ground, give or take a foot.
I define low-angle landscape photography as deliberately setting up my camera rig at a significantly lower height than 4 to 6 feet above ground level. I would consider anything from right on the ground to about 2 or 3 feet up as low-angle photography.
Here’s another thought about low-angle landscape photography: it doesn’t always mean I’m pointing the camera upward from that position. I could be shooting down from that low level or straight across at a subject. As you can see, photography method and technique definitions can be quite fluid.
When To Use Low-Angle Landscape Photography
Photo by Stephen Harker via iStock
So then, when would I be using low-angle landscape photography techniques, setting up at a much lower level than head or shoulder height?
As I mentioned in the introduction, low-angle landscape photography is a great technique for creating or capturing foreground interest in landscape photography. Foreground interest is when a subject nearer to the camera position either dominates or balances the image's composition.
An example of this can be seen in the image of tumbleweeds in irrigation wheels above. There is a lot of foreground interest, and the lowered position of the camera accentuates it. It would still work if taken at eye level; low-angle makes the foreground interest dominant.
Adding to our landscape photography tips, the leading lines composition technique is another good time to be using low-angle landscape photography. In the image below, notice how the gentle curve of the rocks leads you from the front of the scene to the mountain in the back, all of it tied together in harmony by low-angle camera placement. It has leading lines, S-curves, foreground interest, rule of thirds, negative space, symmetry/asymmetry, and color contrasts, all in one image.
Photo by july7th via iStock
As mentioned earlier, we’re not always pointing up or straight across from the lower-level camera placement; sometimes, we’re pointing down. Macro photography is a prime example of this. Macro imaging can be a regular part of low-angle landscape photography, whether with a special-purpose macro lens or an all-around lens with close-focus capability.
What Equipment Is Helpful for Low-Angle Photography?
Let’s look at some equipment ideas for your low-angle landscape photography. I’ll separate it into two major categories: camera stabilization and lens choices.
Few tools beat a good tripod for camera stabilization in low-angle landscape photography. I like the heavier-duty versions with horizontally adjustable center columns and independently adjustable leg angles.
Sometimes, the best camera mount for many low-angle landscape photography is a well-thought-out tripod alternative, such as the Octopad camera mount.
Octopad is unique in the world of tripod alternatives in that it is almost universally applicable as a camera-holding tool. It is a small but weighty semi-solid disk of heavy-duty material with a screw post on top and a non-slip pad underneath.
A medium-sized ball and socket head is usually attached on that top screw post (¼-20). You can add an extension arm between the disk and the head if you need a little more height or adjustment for odd-angle placement.
The bottom of the disk is pretty solid but has a very slight amount of give so it can be placed on less than even surfaces. The non-slip pad means that the surface you’re putting the camera rig on can be angled up to 45 degrees without the rig sliding on you.
Octopad is a tool I use all the time for low-angle landscape photography, GND filters, macro photography, and anytime and anywhere a tripod won’t work. It can also be used for holding portable lights. Videography uses include optimal placement of a microphone.
It’s compact enough to fit into a camera backpack and, to complete the awesomeness of this handy tool, it’s low priced.
Lens choices are varied; many low-angle landscape photography images can be captured with lenses you already own. Normal focal lengths to wide-angle lenses seem to work the best for the ideas we come up with for low-angle photography. With these lens focal lengths, you can stop the aperture and use deep depth of field to include foreground interest.
Macro lenses that focus ultra close and have optical corrections for those focus distances can be found in focal lengths ranging from normal to short telephoto. A lot of nature photographers find the longer focal length macro lenses allow for adding light or for being at a reasonable shooting distance, but whatever you need or want will be an excellent choice.
How To Capture Low-Angle Landscape Photography
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One of the most useful features of digital cameras for low-angle landscape photography is the rear viewscreen, especially if it tilts out. In many low-angle photography situations, whether inside a studio or outdoors for low-angle landscape photography, the camera position makes it difficult to be up at the camera eyepiece.
Using a wired or wireless remote to trigger the camera shutter, simply fold out or tilt the rear view screen so that you can clearly see the image you’re photographing. If your camera’s viewscreen isn’t articulated or tilting, it is still helpful in that it’s much larger than the eyepiece and can be seen from an angle.
To figure out when to try low-angle views, look up from where you’re taking pictures and see if a different viewpoint makes a better image. Squat down, look around, and exhaust all of the angles. Then, use the landscape techniques you already know; just do it from less than eye-level height.
General Landscape Photography Tips
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Shooting in RAW, using a lower ISO if possible, and knowing the sweet-spot aperture of your lenses are some general landscape photography tips I like to repeat for anyone newer to the fun field of landscape and nature photography.
Check out our many articles for specific ideas and improvement of techniques and skills. You will also enjoy this instructional video from the Gary Gough YouTube channel covering basic landscape photography techniques:
Many of these low-angle landscape photography tips are the regular landscape photography tips you already know and use; we’re just applying them to low-level imaging. Keep doing what you’re already doing; just do it from down there for low-angle landscape photography.