Note from The Intrepid Amateur: Congratulations Ed! Ed is our first guest author and is a fine fine photographer. His work is fantastic and I encourage anyone who likes these shots to provide Ed some feedback. We want him back. Ed has given me some great tips on how to better use my big Canon 500mm lens that improved my pics immediately (no, it was not to take off the lens cap). Click here for Ed’s web pages and his great work. Thanx Ed!
To take better photographs, change your point of view!
By guest author, Ed Norman
Many years ago, a friend of mine who was in the Public Relations business, needed some photographs of a large statue of the crucified Christ that graced the front of a church near my hometown of Norristown, PA. He was working on some printed materials for a church fund raiser. What I thought would be a simple, run of the mill photo shoot became a real-life lesson in looking at things from a different point of view.
When I arrived I set up to take the stock frontal photos of the church and I thought to myself, this is rather boring. The statue is seen against the stone of the church and really doesn’t stand out well from its background. I began to move around and just couldn’t get a good view until I decided to look at the statue from the side. I was able to back up about 100 feet and in doing so I was also going uphill so now I had a view of the crucified Jesus with one arm free reaching up and looking up as if to plead with God in heaven, all dramatically silhouetted against the sky.
Several days after I dropped the photos off to my friend, he called me to say that the church’s reaction was, at first, disbelief that this was their statue and then tremendous appreciation for being able to show it off in such a dramatic fashion.
I have often applied this lesson in photographing birds and other wildlife. Taking a different point of view often means just getting down to eye level with your subjects. This works especially well with waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds. And you can do it no matter what equipment you are using! Sit on your haunches, lie on the ground, or, if using a tripod, don’t extend the legs, just spread them out and kneel down behind it to take your shots.
Take a look at these two shots of a Wood Duck taken from a blind I had set up on Five Mile Creek on our property in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. The first is shot looking down on the duck in the stream about 15 feet in front of me. A little while later the duck had moved upstream behind a beaver dam and was now about 3 feet higher in elevation and 30 feet away. This changed my angle of view significantly. I was now looking at the Woodie just above his eye level. By using a large aperture and the resulting shallow depth of field, I was able to blur out the background and isolate the bird; something I couldn’t have done in the other photo. The first photo documents the bird and would be suitable for a field guide. The second one could grace your wall or a page in a calendar.
Change your point of view, I think you’ll like what you see!
More By This Author: Ed Norman