Creating Dramatic Viewpoints and Camera Angles

We are so used to seeing everything at eye-level, which is straight ahead and a few feet from the ground. Most of our shots can end up predictable since if we keep shooting images from the same viewpoint that everyone else is so used to seeing. Just by positioning our camera in an uncommon way can be enough to capture strange but wonderful perspectives.

I will be discussing two specific terms. Viewpoint is the position of the camera in relation to the subject while camera angle is how the camera lens is tilted as the shot is taken. Different viewpoints and angles can portray various impressions and can enhance dramatic effects.

Low viewpoint with low camera angle:

If you are kneeling as you take a picture, the camera's position would be considered a low viewpoint even if it is facing straight ahead. If you tilt the camera upwards, even if you are standing, that is referred to as a low camera angle. When you take a shot this way, it can give the illusion that the subject is bigger than normal and there might be the impression of strength and the subject might look imposing. Imagine being in a land of giants where everything seems bigger and taller than you.

This viewpoint and angle is also great in removing a lot of the background from the subject, which is convenient if the background looks messy.

High viewpoint with high camera angle:

If your camera is at a high position and the camera is facing forward or down (either straight down or tilted diagonally), this would mean having a high viewpoint with a high camera angle. This would have the opposite effect compared to the low viewpoint with low angle. In this case, the subject and background would appear smaller than the usual and it is as if you are now the giant.

These viewpoints and camera angles experiment with the principle of perspective and can significantly enhance an otherwise boring subject. Now that you have a better understanding of the concepts, why not put them in practice? A simple exercise would be to go down in a crouch in the middle of a room in your house. Just handhold your camera in the meantime for better flexibility. Look around and you will notice new things. The furniture suddenly seems huge and the floor seems so dirty even though you just scrubbed it a few hours ago. Now look around through your camera lens and you will probably find suddenly interesting subjects that appeared so ordinary a few minutes before. Take some shots and try going to other rooms or even the garden. You can make a tiny dandelion appear huge at this angle.

Another similar exercise would be to take your camera to a high place. 'High' can mean anything from standing at the top of the kitchen stairs and looking down to being on top of a skyscraper. As you look through the lens from this high vantage point, you will see a large expanse of area and normally big objects such as houses (or even just the refrigerator) may appear small or short.

Try tilting you camera in various ways, even crooked shots can appear dynamic if composed properly. Always look at your subject and think of ways to make it appear fresh in the viewer's eyes. The subject might be the most trivial thing in the world but with the help of dramatic viewpoint and camera angles, you can make it fascinating.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010 at 11:00 am and is filed under Articles, Composition, Photography Techniques, Photography Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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