Why low angle? Why not?
For some strange reason, this subject came to my mind when I was looking for something to write in my blog. Apparently there are two camps with their own views.
Although it is not something as controversial or debatable as in Nikon vs Canon, but certainly the subject deserves some air time in my blog as far as good photography is concerned.
Judging from many of my shots especially those with shorebirds as the main subject, you can tell that I’m biased towards low angle shooting.
I would even go as low as having my face just next to a bunch of duck poops (I can imagine some of you cringing even at the thought of this!) just to get closer to my subjects. Many even admire my work just because of that extra effort! 🙂
There are times you’re on your belly on a downward slope, causing your blood rushing from your feet to your brain. And there are times when your belly and chest rested on sharp pebbles or bushes, and not to mention the stinky shore muds and murky water.
I usually have my trusted purple yoga mat with me but most of the time, it is not big enough and I ended up with messy and gooey stuff sticking all over me… and not to mention going home with a stiff neck (groan) most of the time.
So why go through such a hassle to shoot at low angle? Well, simply put:
a. subject isolation from both foreground and background is optimized
b. bokehlicious shot with creamy background
c. awesome dof
e. unique perspective making the subject appear bigger
Obviously the first 4 on the list is talking about the same thing but I simply want make a stronger point here.
Sure that’s all good but being low does not necessary mean you’re guaranteed to get good shots. The position limits your movements since you can only have a limited panning angle as your whole body is anchored to the ground sort of speaking.
Your sticking head seems to put a lot of weight on you and over a period of time you will get stiff neck like I mentioned above. Often times you get photo-bombed by other birds that walk into your frame right in front of the subject you’re shooting and it always happens in the midst of good actions.
That is when the guys with tripods shrug their shoulders and look at you with a big smile sort of saying I told you since they managed to capture the complete sequence of the action while you’re looking at those dark brown blobs on your LCD…
In my conversation with several photographers, some admitted that they would love to capture similar images but due to health and/or age reasons they simply cannot afford to take the risk. I fully understand and sympathise with their situation. What I fail to understand is those who are able, simply stated that this is not their type of photography even though they are shooting the same subjects we’re shooting.
So while we’re on our belly, they are shooting from a tripod fully extended. Like other wildlife photographers, we have invested a large sum of money in our gear simply to be able to produce good images. However, good images do not simply mean clear sharp good image quality shots since that is only part of the equation in producing outstanding shots.
Lying low with your camera may make you look awkward or even crazy to passerby but the resulting shots are well worth the effort and discomfort. Not everybody can lie down next to a pile of animal poops or murky or smelly gooey mud.
You know the saying “If a bird poops on you, it’s good luck”? Well, now, apparently, it can also give you a smoother, more glow-y appearance when applied directly to your face, in addition to getting amazing shots!
In short, the moral of the story is you need to get dirty and smelly to be rewarded with superb shots. No one says it’s going to be easy..