Lesson 2: Angles

When you’re shooting pictures of specific scene, moving only a small amount can make a big difference. If you look at the pictures in the Process Gallery, you can see the slight differences that are in each picture, just by changing the angle a little bit.

Depending upon the subject matter, you’ll want to shoot a number of photos from different and varying angles. In the Process Gallery, I didn’t get the best shot of Billy until I put the camera on the ground and took the photo from his eye level. By lowering the angle to Billy’s level, it presents a view of the dog that most people generally don’t see, and thus it makes the photo more appealing.

Sometimes all it takes to go from a good picture to a great picture is to change your angle just slightly. This might mean moving physically right or left a few steps, or simply moving the camera. When you look through the viewfinder of the camera, your eye will tend to focus on one area only.  This is often the focal point of the picture. In order to become a better photographer, you should get into the habit of seeing everything in the viewfinder. You need to make a conscious effort to see everything that is in the viewfinder. Remember that everything you see in the viewfinder will be in the picture.

Photo One
Photo One

Take a look at Photo One. (If you click on the picture you’ll see a full-sized version)  In this shot the photographer is basically in the very center of the photograph. There’s really nothing special about the photo however, and it’s just basically a snapshot of a mirror on the underside of an overhang.  It does take a moment to figure out what is going on in the photo,  but there is nothing that stands out or gives the photo a quality that makes it interesting. The picture, by the way, was taken at The Golden Nugget Casino on Fremont Street.

 

 

 

Photo Two
Photo Two

Now look at Photo Two. In this shot the photographer stayed in the same exact spot, but tilted the camera at a slightly different angle and zoomed back slightly to achieve a stronger composition.  Now the mullions of the mirror serve to frame the subject. The photographer is still in the same basic spot in the photograph, but now he’s framed in a creative manner, and the mullions serve to add a natural balance to the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Three
Photo Three

Here’s another example.  In Photo Three the statue was photographed slightly from the side, and while the face of The Virgin Mary falls on the upper third line, it’s a little too off center to give the photo balance.  Moreover, since the picture was taken from a lower angle and slightly off to one side, the bricks in the background give the illusion that the picture is tilted backward. When you first look at the photo your eyes either go to the woman’s face or the crown.  While this is not a bad picture, it really is nothing more than a snapshot, something that anyone could have taken when on vacation here in Las Vegas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Four
Photo Four

Photo Four was taken from the exact same spot as Photo Three.  The major difference here is that the focal point of the photo has changed. The photographer zoomed into the subject and now the child’s hand has become the focal point.  With the extremely tight cropping the photo takes on a very different look. The child is now the main focus of the picture, and our eyes are drawn to his hand in the center of the shot.  In this shot we can also see the cracks and ships in the statue, and now that the bricks are only a small part of the picture, it no longer looks like the photo is crooked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Five
Photo Five

Now take a look at the final example.  Photo Five is a pretty ordinary photo of a sidewalk in Downtown Las Vegas.  There is no real strong focal point, and while there is a leading line, it’s pretty weak. This looks like a snapshot that someone took without much thought as to what they were doing.  There’s no real sense of composition, and there’s nothing to draw the viewer’s attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Six
Photo Six

Photo Six was taken from the exact same spot as Photo Five.  The only difference is that the photographer zoomed all the way in, thereby compressing the shot and drawing the viewer’s eye to the area beneath the trees. The “tunnel” beneath the trees is much more evident and interesting than in the previous shot. By zooming in it also brings attention to the shadows in the foreground of the photo, and the pattern that they create on the sidewalk. To fully appreciate the effect, you should be sure to click on the photo to enlarge it in order to see all of the aspects discussed here.