A DIFFERENT ANGLE – Chris Schultz

Views_vertI’ll confess – I’m a bit of an angle seeker when it comes to photographic images. I like to see things from a different angular perspective as it adds freshness to what may seem a mundane scene. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try to keep you interested.

How can you find new angles?  Change your shooting angle  Many photographers shoot standing up and never change position – which limits perspective. It’s like looking out of the same window in your house every day – the view is fixed. If you step outside though, you’ll find a different view of the same thing. Try these simple changes of view:

  • Get down on your knees or on your belly or on your back or climbing up some steps or a chair to get above the action,
  • Shooting around the corner or looking up is a new angle,
  • Take your photo from directly overhead,
  • Frame your photo with another object such as a window, a gap in the some plants,
  • Try the horror angle that photographic judges hate – a tilted horizon – but make it interesting to by leading your eye across the frame,
  • Try taking the photo in both portrait and landscape view – you may find something new
  • Find an object with angles nature and your environment abound with these. Think of a palm frond, the convergence of wires to the horizon on a long road, the pattern on a feather or a shell or your dinner plate, a diagonal line of shadow created by a post or blinds?
  • Go wide – I love using my wide angle lens (the much praised Sigma 10-20mm). With this type of lens lines converge and give new angles, foreground objects can gain prominence. Even panoramas are easily created – I’ll shoot in portrait mode (less distortion) and stitch the images together.

Maximising Depth of Field—The Hyperfocal distance

One advantage of a wide angle lens is you can exploit hyperfocal distance. What’s that? Effectively, it’s the closest distance you can focus on and yet still keep objects up to infinity sharp. Anything from half the hyperfocal distance to infinity remains sharp. This is far easier to achieve with a wide angle lens which is why they are so popular.  There are many calculators for the hyperfocal distance on the web (and on smartphones) – here is one to try: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/hyperfocal-distance.htm

Get close

the great Robert Capa once said “If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough”. So get up close and personal with a plant, fill your viewfinder with a face or a page. But don’t overdo it – you want to maintain interest and give perspective to tell that story and give impact.

Find a reflection – I know that reflections are done to death, but find something that distorts that reflection – a bumper bar, curved glass, water, the front of a lens. It’s a reflection but with some unique angles that others won’t necessarily see.

What tools do you need?

Your eyes – keep looking for something different that will give your image impact – not the same thing you’ve seen a hundred times before. Explore familiar objects and locations from a different point of view

Your mind – make use of a concept known as visual literacy. You need to learn a new visual language that allows you to understand how people perceive, interpret and give meaning to an object. If you can learn that, you can create images that will give your photographs more impact.

Camera lenses – or at least different focal lengths. Wide angle and telephoto focal lengths give your images those interesting views that you may not have thought of.  Or get close with a macro view – maybe even an extreme macro view.

So there you have it – some ideas (not exhaustive) that may give you inspiration for some new images that freshen that viewpoint and explore the world by changing your angle. I look forward to seeing your new work!

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