Week 2 - Use extreme angles to create drama


This is not your average barber, not from this perspective anyway. I captured this image on a photo walk through New York City's Chinatown.

I used an extreme angle to create a hero effect with this barber in New York City's Chinatown.The barber was standing outside his shop with a friendly smile, but I thought it might be fun to play with some extreme angles.

Changing your perspective is an easy way to create dramatic images with your camera.

This week, we'll explore three different perspectives for our challenge.

Most of us view the world from somewhere between 5 feet to 6 feet, give or take. In that range, we call photographs eye level.  When you take a photo from eye level, it looks like your viewer might remember the scene or imagine it.

Eye level is one of the most common viewpoints, but that doesn't mean it isn't useful. When photographing a person, we keep the camera close to eye level to create an intimate connection between subject and viewer.

But for really dramatic effects, you want to move your camera away from eye level and try either the bird's eye view or the worm's eye view.


Bird's Eye View

Photographing from a bird's viewpoint is probably the most challenging logistically. In that case, you are usually standing on something like a ladder, chair or table. I use the higher viewpoint when I am photographing a group of people. The bird's vantage point can also work in some landscape situations.

One caution, if you are standing and pointing the camera down toward a flower at ground level, that's not a bird's eye view. You are still shooting from eye level. To make that image work, you should try our next approach. 


Worm's Eye View

For the photograph of the barber in Chinatown, I went for a very low angle, generally known as the worm's eye view. When you use this approach for people, you can create a hero effect. Executives use this for their 'captains of industry' poses. The Washington Post used it last weekend to signal the bright future for Robert Griffin III

Use the bird's eye or worm's eye perspective to create more dramatic and memorable photographs.


The Challenge

For this week's challenge, let's take a photo from a different perspective, either very low or very high. Try to make it as extreme as you can. No timid angles. What kind of effect can you create?


Share your images with us

Once you have a great hero photo, post it in the comments here or tag it #composition21 when you post it on Twitter or Flickr.


Join the Composition Challenge

Sign up to join the 21-Week Composition Challenge. Every week, I'll deliver a photo challenge by email for you to shoot and share. Learn more about it or sign up below.


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