Last week, Trevor McCall-Peat took a look at composition and how it can save the day when it comes to taking a good photograph. Well related to that and in my opinion, one of the simplest and most effective tools in composition to get right is, the correct angle. The ‘correct’ angle is invariably as close to eye level with your subject as possible. This is because it draws the viewer into the shot and gives the sense of being involved in the scene, rather than a separate observer looking either down or up at the scene. This is easier said than done, particularly when you are seated in the back of a Land Rover, but, using the terrain to your advantage, you can invariably adapt the angle of your shot and improve it dramatically.
For example, take the photograph below of the Camp Pan male. Although this is a nice clear shot of a leopard; the elevated angle, looking down on the subject means the photo loses most of its impact. It was lucky here that the Camp Pan male looked up at the camera because if he hadn’t, the focus of the photograph would have been the top of his head.
Now compare it to the photograph below where we are actually below eye- level with the animals. By positioning ourselves next to a ridge that the cheetah were on, it ensured that the four cheetah cubs from 2014 were at eye level. By doing this you get a much better view of their facial expressions and feel much more connected to the subjects.
So often we tend to think that the closer you are to your subject, the better your photo will be. However by putting some distance between yourself and your subject, one immediately lowers the angle. Here by being positioned on the opposite side of the waterhole, it achieves the impression of being at water level.
The aim of low-angle photography is also to give the viewer a look at the world from an angle they are not used to. It provides details on things that we don’t normally see and makes the photograph that much more impactful.
Although it may not always be easy, it is well worth making the effort to get at eye-level with your subject. Remember that by doing this, you can turn the mundane into the extraordinary.