Viewpoints – Shooting High
There are many reasons to choose a high shooting position…
Landscape and location photographers routinely choose high viewpoints to shoot vistas, whether an expansive mountain view or a city skyline. While a low angle will emphasise an object right in front of the camera, this object is also likely to obscure what’s in the middle distance. A high angle will place the camera above any such obstructions to provide a more accurate sense of relative distance from foreground to background.
Raising the camera above your head to get a picture above a crowd is probably the most obvious reason to use a high angle. Whether at a sports event, concert or crowded club it’s the best way to avoid filling the frame with the backs of people’s heads. If your arm isn’t long enough to get you the height you need, try attaching it to a monopod and holding the monopod above your head. Of course, you won’t be able to reach the shutter button so you’ll need to use the self-timer or a remote release. You’ll find a tilt and swivel LCD screen useful to help you compose accurately.
A slightly high viewpoint is common practice when photographing people. Portraits are generally more flattering when taken from slightly above the subject’s eyeline, as it places less emphasis on the nose, nostrils and chin. But this is a subtle height difference. When you go for more extreme angles the subject’s relationship with the viewer changes. They become more subservient to the viewer and, depending on the context, can look vulnerable or lost in their surroundings.