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Not with a gun – with a camera. Flexibility is a prerequisite.
I often find people giving me strange looks when I’m lying on the ground trying to get that shot. When I struggle to get back on my feet, they chuckle. They don’t know how hard that is with my creaky old knees, and I wish there were an easier way, but you can’t get decent shots of kids and animals and wild things without observing one very simple rule:
You have to get down to their level
It’s easy to see in these examples what the right level is for kids: eye level. In a sense, photos like these resemble portraits so the same rules apply.
If you take shots from above, you won’t get the same impact unless it’s a macro shot of an insect or a shot of a tiger passing under the tree you’ve climbed up to save yourself.
You’ll also distort the perspective, especially with small children looking up at you – their heads tend be a bit on the big side to begin with but a shot from above will highlight that tendency. By getting down to their level, you avoid those problems. The technique works just as well for animals:
Some of the animals we find around our cities are pretty tame, and that’s a big help. The water dragon is used to people and doesn’t scare when you move in close, as long as you do it calmly and slowly.
The slow technique even works with a bunch of Pelicans – up to a point. I stumbled upon these guys down at Balmoral beach one morning. Of course, it’s useful to have a camera handy when you get lucky.
OK, we’ve covered children and animals – where do motorbikes come in? With motorbikes, cars and big animals, you often get a more dramatic shot when you get down low enough for the camera to look up at these things.
As you can see from the Triumph 675 Triple below, that’s how you can make a stationary bike look fast and dangerous.
This was shot at 18mm, the widest angle I had on the lens. A wider angle would add yet more drama by exaggerating the perspective, but the key is getting down as low as you can. If you like shooting exotic motorbikes and cars, it might pay to add a Yoga mat to your kit bag.