TIP 3: SHOOTING PERSPECTIVE : EYE-LEVEL OF THE SUBJECT / by Akhil Menon

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This may seem like a very simple idea, but it is a very important and strong tip in wildlife photography or videography. Wherever and whenever possible, try to shoot a subject at their eye-level (or to their "real world" perspective), to get a more appealing image for the viewers eye.

For me, sometimes this means I have to get to a more elevated position, such as the top of a hill or climb trees even, to shoot certain subjects such as Birds perched on the canopy (branches) of trees or even lie flat on the ground trying to capture a bird/animal on the ground. However the difference it makes to a frame is just world's apart.

You can see this well-illustrated in the example of the image that I shot of an Egyptian Nightjar from the car (Top) and lying flat on the ground (Bottom). Of course, sitting in the comfort of my air-conditioned car in the desert heat, was the easier click and I took the least amount of effort to capture the frame as the bird was not disturbed. However, the amazingly camouflaged bird is almost difficult to spot and the image is not very impressive as does not stand the subject out against the background. Now, getting down and lying flat on the ground without getting noticed by the birds, took a lot of attempts before I found myself a patient subject, who did not fly away. Also, the ground was harsh and sprayed all over with dry thorns from the desert shrubs and pokey stones, which struck my skin (hurtful of course) or got stuck to my clothes which is a lot of work cleaning up to avoid getting hurt, further.

But all this effort was well-worth it, at the end. In otherwise a very dry habitat, I managed to get a lot of green bokeh (background blur) for the subject from distant shrubs only because I took the eye-level shot. Additionally, as the ground was uneven, adjusting my position also allowed me to blur out the foreground to a good extend, allowing me to put more focus and detail into the bird. The eye-to-eye perspective helps better connect the viewer to my subject as well.

Now, with a high-angle shot to the eye-level, the subject will appear smaller or weaker (lesser impact). This is often used to achieve a different perspective or a miniaturizing shot for example shooting a cluster of insects or people from top of the building. A low-angle shot to the subject's eye-level, will help make the subject appear bigger or more dominant. A very good example when a low angle shot works well to add drama would be that of an Elephant, standing tall. An eye-level frame of the same Elephant would be neutral and not add much drama or appeal. So try all angles possible to nail a good appealing perspective.

Eye-level photography perspectives are not just limited to wildlife but to any kinds of photography that involves a subject. So please think about this tip while composing your frame before you shoot your next subject. Happy Clicking!