Perspective and Angles in Photography

Camera perspectives and angles go hand in hand in photography. Finding the right angle will shift the perspective of your photo and can help transform even the most ordinary subject into a works of art. One may even argue that there is no such thing as the ‘right perspective’ in photography. Perspectives tend to vary and they depend to a large extent on how the photographer chooses to represent a subject to his viewers. The argument would be correct to some extent. Yet, perspectives are sometimes necessary to be maintained as well, meaning the subject needs to be captured and represented in printed / digital media exactly the way they appear in real life.

For example, you may capture the Taj Mahal from a very low angle, almost lying on your back. That’s a worm’s view, which will no doubt distort how the Taj appears in real life. It will be a unique representation nevertheless. But that’s just your perspective of how you look at the Taj. Another photographer may go for the ‘established’ look which properly represents the magnificent mausoleum on a two dimensional medium. Like the one below.

In search of the unique perspective

Photographers are always on the lookout for that unique perspective, even if the subject that they are trying to capture has been photographed a million times before. In the example above I wrote about the Taj. Tell me if you stand in front of it and capture the shot above, will it be considered a unique perspective? I know it is one for the album and everyone takes that shot but there’s nothing new or unique in it.

Lying down on the ground is just one of the ways to get a unique perspective. You may have to kneel down, shoot straight up, use the dutch angle, or use methods such as forced perspective and or change lenses to get a unique angle and a unique perspective.

Forced perspective

There is something interesting known as forced perspective in photography. It employs the use of different lenses, camera angles and distances to make objects appears larger or smaller or even further away or closer than they actually are. The image on the left is a perfect example of how this can be achieved. Here distance is the key, more than anything else.

Change lenses for a unique perspective

Focal lengths relative to the type of photography are ingrained in our systems. Ok you are shooting portraitures? use the 105mm f/2 lens. Shooting landscapes? Take the 16-35mm. Shooting birds? Take the 300mm prime. Sometimes I feel that these pre-programmed concepts of what focal length to use for which subject is so much ingrained inside us that we lose our creative freedom. We are scared of using the ‘unusual’ focal lengths for shooting usual subjects. I remember watching a video tutorial on forced perspectives and the speaker there used a fish-eye lens to shoot pictures on a professional basketball game! Something that would force the purists to raise their eyebrows.

The point is if you are hunting for perspectives there is no better way to do that than by changing the lens. At least ditch the 18-55mm that came with your DSLR and mount something that you would never use normally and shoot anything.

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