lower angle

How to Adjust the Camera Height from the Highest to the Lowest

Compositional TechniqueS

The Highest of Highs

You can raise the height of the camera. It tends to be a bit trickier just because there is not always something handy to climb on.

However, if you can do it, it can be very effective in changing the look and feel of the photo. First of all, it changes our background.

Our backgrounds are often more important than your actual subject. The background helps to define our subject.

                                      – James Beltz

The background can be minimized and distracting elements removed by only getting above our subject and looking down. “Simplification” itself is a compositional technique. The more you can simplify the image, the more we tend to pay attention to our subject. Controlling our background is key in this regard.

Just 12 inches in height can drastically alter the composition. Or you can be far above them shooting off of a balcony like shown in this photo.

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There are two easy ways to get your camera above the height of the subject. Here is the first one. Just simply have the subject sit or take a knee.

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Another trick is to hold the camera over your head, and with a wide-angle lens, you can guess how to frame the subject. It takes a lot of practice to be able to get the shot. But the more you do it, the better at it you become. It also, as you see below, makes for a very candid shot. It was taken with a 16-35mm F/2.8 at 16mm.

high angle photo

I think you get the point. If at all possible, get your camera on up there and change your perspective. Because sometimes a bird’s eye view presents a whole new image.

How Low Can You Go

Many times as we line up our shot, we stand there on our feet like we always do and take the shot. Well, quite frankly, my grandmother can do that with her point and shoot.

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Always look to alter the angle. They often make for much better composition. The easiest way to accomplish this is to drop your height. You can also summarily raise your height above standard, but if you have something to climb, that may be a bit harder. Lowering your height is significantly easier. It drastically changes your backgrounds.

Our backgrounds are often more important than your actual subject. The background helps to define our subject.

                                      – James Beltz

You can lower the height of the camera by as little as 12 inches, and suddenly, those in the background vanish and are swapped out for the tree line in the distance. Or you can go all the way to the ground like our demo shot. Lowering the camera to just above the ground changed the perspective of this shot. First of all, with children, anytime you can get down to their height, you are bringing the viewer into the actual world of the child. Secondly, your background changes, and suddenly your image no longer looks like a snapshot. It takes on a more candid and artistic feel.

Such a simple thing to do, right? But it does not need to be complicated to be effective.

Photography is not complicated. It is a combination of many simple things. We, humans, tend to overthink things from time to time.

                                       – James Beltz