You’d be surprised how a simple change of perspective in photography can take your images from amateur to pro. Pay attention to any magazine, advertisement, exhibition, etc., and you’ll notice how almost none of the photographs were taken at eye-level.
Just by changing the point of view, you can completely transform an image. You can play with size, proportion, depth, and many other characteristics. One of the most important aspects, however, is that you are showing the viewer the subject from a point of view that is out of the ordinary.
There are many angles you can choose from, in this article I’m going to focus on positioning yourself above the subject. Now let’s see a couple of choices for you to get started.
Bird’s eye view
As the name suggests, this shot means that you should be highly elevated and therefore watching your subject from a flying bird’s perspective. With small subjects or even a portrait, you can just climb on a chair or a tree. However, for landscapes, you can go up a building or tower. There are lots of touristic places that have high scenic viewpoints for you to practice.
You don’t need any specific gear for it but there are some things to consider regarding your settings:
- If you’re in the open, it might be windy the higher you go, so use fast shutter speed.
- Even if you’re behind glass, but you’re not to allowed to use a tripod (like it happens in most touristic places), you’ll still need to keep an eye on your shutter speed to avoid blurry images.
- Speaking of being behind glass, be careful with the reflections. For this problem, you might find useful to carry with you a lens hood or a polarizing filter. More tips to minimizing reflections on windows can be found here.
A change of perspective in photography is not only a good practice to improve your skills, but it can also be used creatively. Here are some ideas for you to try using the bird’s eye perspective:
- Incorporate an object in the foreground to make more interesting photographs Having an anchor in your image can guide the viewer through your image.
- A bird’s eye perspective is great to do panoramas. This technique will need some post-production to stitch together your images. Here’s all you need to know to do it, give it a try.
- Finally, try creating your own miniature world by trying the tilt and shift effect. Bird’s eye is the best perspective to achieve the perfect illusion.
The top-down name is quite clear. It means that you’re looking down directly onto the subject. Of course, this is also a perspective a bird could have, however, it’s a camera angle in its own right. For this, your focal plane has to be parallel to the subject.
You don’t need special gear. You can achieve this with any camera – even with your smartphone – which is probably why it’s so popular for food and still-life photography on Instagram. It’s also very popular for drone photography.
However, there are some accessories that can be useful:
- You need to be parallel to the surface you’re photographing, so a tripod and a bubble level can make your life much easier.
- If you’re using a tripod, you may need to use an extension arm or similar. This will prevent the legs from coming into the frame.
- This is not a piece of equipment, but a recommendation about where you place the tripod. Be careful not to cast the shadow of the tripod, lights, or yourself on the subject.
Flat lay is a very popular term for blogs and social media, especially Instagram. It refers to a composition of objects laid onto a flat surface. There are many contests and challenges online, look for them with the hashtag flat-lay. Join them and practice your top-down skills.
Colors and shapes
Because there’s almost no depth with the top-down perspective, you have to make the most out of the two dimensions you have to work with. Instead of it being a limitation, get creative and use composition, colors, and shapes to improve your designer skills.
A change of perspective in photography can give you lots of opportunities to improve and create fun and innovative images. You don’t need to buy any extra equipment or learn any new techniques, all you need to do is move around your subject. I hope you have fun and if you feel up to it keep on exploring with these extra articles: