Create a low camera angle for a more dramatic portrait.
In this post I am comparing two images taken at the same location. The portrait of the boy and girl above was taken at one of my first sessions at this location, a nearby Historical Village. I love the emotional contact between brother and sister, but there was something not quite right.
The cropping was good, the boys head is on the top third intersecting line and both heads fall on the diagonal line (top R TO bot L). I thought the camera was low enough to be looking up at them, around waist height.
After a looking at it for awhile, I decided I didn’t like the way the tracks finished. They were also nearly 90 degrees to the bottom of the image, which seemed too structured. Sometimes when you are trying to capture the emotion, you can easily miss the obvious and this why you should always edit and critique your own work. Always ask yourself “how can I improve this image”.
On the image below, I improved the perspective by lowering the camera to about 300mm above the ground and moved my position slightly to my left. By doing this I now have the tracks dipping over into the background, so they appear continuous. Also by moving to my left and turning the camera back to my right allows the boys to be in the third vertical zone. This opens the tracks up in the foreground and creates a narrowing perspective to the background.
These are small adjustments, but they create a more dramatic perspective. A couple of additional techniques I use when working with young children is to give them something to do, which creates interaction and helps stop them from wandering off. The trick is to watch and listen and photograph the reaction between them. It can be laughter, eye contact, a smile or the way they look at each other. They are all different and our job is capture those priceless little moments.
TIP....... when photographing railway tracks, roads, lanes, dirt roads etc. try lowering your camera’s point of view for a more dramatic look. Try laying on the ground, this will really blow the foreground out of focus, especially if you are using a telephoto lens (eg. 200mm) This applies to any photograph not just portraits. Experiment by photographing a scene or people, one shot standing up, next kneeling, next laying on the ground. Do one set with a long lens then another with a wide lens and compare the perspectives.
Tip....... when photographing portraits using a low perspective try setting your lens aperture wide open or one stop up. (if it’s a F2.8 lens, set it at f2.8 or F4) This will give you a reasonable shallow depth of field. The combination of a low camera angle, a long lens and a shallow depth of field will create a dramatic portrait.
TECHNICAL | Canon 5D 70-200mm F2.8L IS (top image)
F4@1/60 ISO 250 lens @160mm
B&W conversion: Nik Silver Efex P
Canon 5D 70-200mm F2.8L IS (bottom image)
F3.5@1/125 ISO 400 lens @ 200mm
B&W conversion: Nik Silver Efex Pro
Until next time, happy shooting