Try A New View
Photographers travel the world looking for new things to shoot to make their pictures standout from what’s already been done. But the search for new subjects and locations gets more and more difficult because there will always be other photographers who have been there and shot that.
A simple solution this problem is to shoot the familiar in an unfamiliar way. Low angles make the whole world look new, because about 95% of pictures are taken by adults holding a camera at head height. We see the world at eye-level and shoot it that way too, so something as simple as holding the camera at waist level can create a new perspective that makes the viewer stop and take a closer look.
We are all familiar with the unique angles achieved by old TLR cameras with waist-level viewfinders and how that lower angle viewpoint makes their pictures quite distinctive. The same look can be created with any camera – it just depends where you hold it. Crouching down even lower lets the world take on a completely new look, and shooting from knee-high and from street level can make the most familiar scene look fresh and exciting.
People don’t often stretch out on the street so no one gets to see the view from down there except babies in their buggies. Shooting from that height will present people with something they have never seen – even if you are shooting Buckingham Palace, The Arc d’Triomph, Oxford Street or any well-known and well-photographed site.
A tabletop mini tripod is ideal for this sort of thing, as they will afford you stability and low angle. In addition, you’ll have the flexibility to choose the aperture and shutter speed that suits the look you’re going for. Modern cameras that have live view make this even easier, and those with flip-out screens make it easier again. You can get the camera right down on the floor without having to lie down on the ground yourself. Even though you are shooting from an extreme position it’s still important to keep the camera level, especially left to right if not front to back.
You will find you have a lot of foreground from your low angle, which can be a brilliant way to lead the viewer into the subject. Make the most of the bottom of the frame by finding something interesting to place there, and remember that including so much floor provides a great chance to enhance the view with a frame, a leading detail or some other item that adds information to the story of the place or the situation.