Get a New Perspective By Getting High… with your Camera

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Looking-Down

Regular readers of DPS will know of my love for shooting from down low to get an image that emphasizes the height of subjects.

I love the way shooting from ground level creates wonderful foregrounds and puts a completely new perspective of familiar scenes. In addition to this it’s great for photographing children, pets and wildlife as it really puts you on their level and helps you enter their world.

However photography is a wonderful thing because sometimes it’s when you go to extremes that you can get the best shots. While shooting from low down leads to interesting shots – so does getting up high and shooting down on your subject.

Here are six reasons why shooting from up high can be something worth considering:

Group-Shot-2
  1. flattens objects – shooting down on a scene tends to flatten it out. While this can mean depth of field doesn’t come into play as much it can highlight patterns, textures and shapes well.
  2. no horizons – photographing a scene below you eliminates horizons and skies. This means less big empty blue spaces in your shots and hopefully more points of interest.
  3. less distracting backgrounds – because most of your scene will be the same distance from your lens you might find yourself with less (or no) backgrounds to have to scan before you snap your shot.
  4. group shots – if you’re photographing a large group of people, shooting from up high is a great way to fit everyone in as less space is filled up with legs and torsos and more filled up with faces.
  5. New-Perspectives
  6. shadows – I love shooting from up high at the start or end of a day when shadows are at their longest. When shooting from ground level at such times the light can be wonderful but it’s almost impossible to get a full shadow in frame. Shooting down captures the way light hits objects in ways that can give a whole new perspective on a subject.
  7. new perspectives – sometimes it is difficult to photograph familiar objects in a way that keeps them looking fresh and interesting. I’m thinking of iconic buildings or structures for example. Shooting from up high can reveal things about those objects that no one may have seen before.

Do you use this technique? Got any tips to add on the topic?

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • neat, i like the different perspective part…its not habit forming though is it? i dont wanna get addicted 😛 haha

  • Fxa

    What a great article!
    Can it used for shooting architecture?

  • Of note: This article does not advocate turning one’s camera body or lens into a makeshift bong.

  • Taking an original angle, or seeing things in a different light are a great way for a surprising outcome.
    Sometimes it’s a bit tough not to be caught in a cliche (one example for such thing is the many circular stairs photos ;)) but using angles as shown here, can be pretty rewarding.

    I don’t have a ‘high’ angle example, but I do have a low angle 🙂 – http://www.ilanbresler.com/2008/12/smile.html
    (A parachute in Antalya , Turkey)

  • Lorenzo Reffo

    wow, I really like the idea of getting high for shooting groups of people!! I think that would be a great idea to get unique photos of very popular moments such as weddings, birthdays, degrees, etc.

  • Peter

    A very good idea… I’ve never tried this…but this is one more way our creative minds can grow into better photographers… I’ll definitely try this…

    thanks DPS…

  • Interesting article! What type of lens do you suggest for this type of image?

  • Definitely going to try this out ! Thanks for the tip.

  • I actually just last week made a similar blog about quickly applying this in a photojournalism setting: http://ericmansfieldphotography.com/blog/

  • George

    For about 10 years, I have been involved with KAP (kite aerial photography) where a kite is used to lift a camera. For me it is the shadows and the different perspective that has held my interest in this aspect of photography.

    For anyone who is interested, some examples can be found at:

    My Flickr KAP set or several of my Picasa albums: Punta Cana, Easter at my in-laws, BMX and Skate Park.

    George

  • Rolling Stone

    When I lived in the city, this was easy to do. But living in a small town can be a bit difficult. I can get to the top of a mountain and shoot down on a town. Anyone have any other ideas for small towns?

  • George

    rolling stone wrote: Anyone have any other ideas for small towns?

    I have seen this done with ladders, off balconies, etc but also similar to what I wrote about KAP above, using a pole.

    George

  • MJavian

    Added info on this subject go to BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY June 2009 Issue 99. An interview with Nigel Richards called On High. As the title suggests a different perspective on subjects (also in black and white).

    MJavian

  • Krishna

    how do you guys like this?

    [eimg link=’http://www.flickr.com/photos/40262354@N04/3743137218/’ title=’MoMA’ url=’http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3487/3743137218_e5c970a324.jpg’]

  • kabous

    I get the best knight photo’s when i get nice and high… 🙂

  • Chris

    I have recently used the technique of shooting from high, only standing on a chair, to picture a mother and her new baby, this perspective is great using a wide angle lens and then doing a tight crop post processing.

  • Scottc

    You can also get “high” by getting low…..

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/6888775241/

  • JohnP

    I once took a large ladder on an outdoor wedding shoot as I knew the ground was flat and I had a large group photo to do. Bit of an effort but worked ok.

  • Great post Darren. I find this very helpful for corporate groups, like the one in your example. So much easier to see faces!

  • If you are really crazy, you can put your camera on top of a tall tripod and seat belt it into the back seat of a convertible… but I wouldn’t suggest trying it! [eimg url=’http://www.lourceyphoto.com/EscapeJPG.jpg’ title=’EscapeJPG.jpg’]

  • Randy Adler

    I used a monopod a 2 second timer and fast! moving to get camera up high. Looks very cool in a crowd. Did video also the same way. Got lots of good comments about it.

  • Michael Hughes

    Our wedding photographer’s main work is of Aircraft for Flight and other magazines.
    He’s a friend so although we were all lblack tie and the bride and maids looked perfect the actual photography was a very informal shoot.

    He shot us from high – he climbed up a fire escape outside the hotel and had us all running about, arms outstretched doing aircraft display.

    It was histerical, and something that could only have been done from high.

  • pixelite
  • Andy Chen

    bravo, not what i was thinking when I saw the title though…

  • TJ

    hi

  • JEFF

    WAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ UP

  • TJ

    wazzzup

  • TJ

    sup peni

  • XxUnboundCMDxX

    hey tj what you doing

  • XxUnboundCMDxX

    2+2=Fish yaaaa i no math 1+1=6 right

Some Older Comments

  • pixelite August 3, 2012 12:59 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/78613237@N04/7699693408/

  • Michael Hughes July 13, 2012 05:43 pm

    Our wedding photographer's main work is of Aircraft for Flight and other magazines.
    He's a friend so although we were all lblack tie and the bride and maids looked perfect the actual photography was a very informal shoot.

    He shot us from high - he climbed up a fire escape outside the hotel and had us all running about, arms outstretched doing aircraft display.

    It was histerical, and something that could only have been done from high.

  • Randy Adler July 13, 2012 03:26 pm

    I used a monopod a 2 second timer and fast! moving to get camera up high. Looks very cool in a crowd. Did video also the same way. Got lots of good comments about it.

  • Larry Lourcey July 12, 2012 05:41 am

    If you are really crazy, you can put your camera on top of a tall tripod and seat belt it into the back seat of a convertible... but I wouldn't suggest trying it! [eimg url='http://www.lourceyphoto.com/EscapeJPG.jpg' title='EscapeJPG.jpg']

  • Larry Lourcey July 12, 2012 05:35 am

    Great post Darren. I find this very helpful for corporate groups, like the one in your example. So much easier to see faces!

  • JohnP July 9, 2012 09:33 am

    I once took a large ladder on an outdoor wedding shoot as I knew the ground was flat and I had a large group photo to do. Bit of an effort but worked ok.

  • Scottc July 9, 2012 07:50 am

    You can also get "high" by getting low.....

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/6888775241/

  • steve slater July 9, 2012 02:18 am

    From above the clouds

    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Scenes-from-Italy-and-the-Alps/G0000ID.UepOSY4U/I0000T2OZwE2BgBg

  • steve slater July 9, 2012 02:16 am

    Took this from the top of a cliff

    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Scenes-of-Spain-The-Costas/G0000Qp9QOeUBwDA/I0000gylJoCA5Omk

  • Chris February 18, 2012 05:19 am

    I have recently used the technique of shooting from high, only standing on a chair, to picture a mother and her new baby, this perspective is great using a wide angle lens and then doing a tight crop post processing.

  • kabous May 21, 2010 04:57 pm

    I get the best knight photo's when i get nice and high... :)

  • Krishna February 6, 2010 08:36 am

    how do you guys like this?

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/40262354@N04/3743137218/' title='MoMA' url='http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3487/3743137218_e5c970a324.jpg']

  • MJavian August 1, 2009 12:53 pm

    Added info on this subject go to BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY June 2009 Issue 99. An interview with Nigel Richards called On High. As the title suggests a different perspective on subjects (also in black and white).

    MJavian

  • George August 1, 2009 12:54 am

    rolling stone wrote: Anyone have any other ideas for small towns?

    I have seen this done with ladders, off balconies, etc but also similar to what I wrote about KAP above, using a pole.

    George

  • suseu July 31, 2009 05:13 pm

    high + fish-eye = http://www.suseu.art.pl/blog/?id=287

  • Rolling Stone July 31, 2009 10:37 am

    When I lived in the city, this was easy to do. But living in a small town can be a bit difficult. I can get to the top of a mountain and shoot down on a town. Anyone have any other ideas for small towns?

  • George July 31, 2009 04:06 am

    For about 10 years, I have been involved with KAP (kite aerial photography) where a kite is used to lift a camera. For me it is the shadows and the different perspective that has held my interest in this aspect of photography.

    For anyone who is interested, some examples can be found at:

    My Flickr KAP set or several of my Picasa albums: Punta Cana, Easter at my in-laws, BMX and Skate Park.

    George

  • Eric July 31, 2009 02:30 am

    I actually just last week made a similar blog about quickly applying this in a photojournalism setting: http://ericmansfieldphotography.com/blog/

  • Gaurav July 30, 2009 07:35 pm

    here is one shoot by me...

    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1147/1376652787_08435d6e06_m.jpg

  • Joel July 29, 2009 07:03 am

    Definitely going to try this out ! Thanks for the tip.

  • jobob arikan July 28, 2009 04:00 am

    http://jobobarikan.deviantart.com/art/50th-Birthday-of-the-Bridge-41190900

  • Neil Harbinson July 28, 2009 03:47 am

    Interesting article! What type of lens do you suggest for this type of image?

  • Peter July 27, 2009 11:33 pm

    A very good idea... I've never tried this...but this is one more way our creative minds can grow into better photographers... I'll definitely try this...

    thanks DPS...

  • Lorenzo Reffo July 27, 2009 08:42 pm

    wow, I really like the idea of getting high for shooting groups of people!! I think that would be a great idea to get unique photos of very popular moments such as weddings, birthdays, degrees, etc.

  • Ilan July 27, 2009 02:55 pm

    Taking an original angle, or seeing things in a different light are a great way for a surprising outcome.
    Sometimes it's a bit tough not to be caught in a cliche (one example for such thing is the many circular stairs photos ;)) but using angles as shown here, can be pretty rewarding.

    I don't have a 'high' angle example, but I do have a low angle :) - http://www.ilanbresler.com/2008/12/smile.html
    (A parachute in Antalya , Turkey)

  • OsmosisStudios July 27, 2009 01:13 pm

    Of note: This article does not advocate turning one's camera body or lens into a makeshift bong.

  • Fxa July 27, 2009 10:26 am

    What a great article!
    Can it used for shooting architecture?

  • dead July 27, 2009 10:06 am

    neat, i like the different perspective part...its not habit forming though is it? i dont wanna get addicted :P haha

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