Since you can’t tilt the earth, move your camera

Blogger note: Over the past week I have been trying to help a friend learn a few things about basic photography for a job position he’ll be taking soon in Germany. He’ll be writing and taking photos, the latter he’s not familiar with. So while I have been digging back into what was some of the first things I learned I thought it would be good to bring a few of those to the blog. Enjoy.

While quality of your camera is very important, this technique is something that can dramatically affect the outcome of your pictures without ever having start picking up cans on the side of the road to turn in for cash for a new camera. If you keep this in mind, even photos taken with disposables or your point and shoots will stand out from your friends (on sites like myFace).

When most people take pictures, they shoot from eye level and from about the same distance every time. Greg Cooper explained this rule in a way that was very original. “You’re using the six foot six rule,” Cooper said. I hope I explain this as well as Cooper did. He says that we need to break eye level by getting higher or lower than we normally see things. Get farther away or closer to your subject to break that standard in which your audience sees things every day. Hence, don’t shoot things six feet high and six feet from your subject.

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I don’t think this photo ever made it from our trip to Reagan Library, but while searching for photos for example in this blog, I found it to be exactly what I was talking about. Instead of putting my subject right in the middle of this photograph, I got low and gave it an interesting angle. I’ve gotten mixed responses for this picture, love and hate. To me, what the low tilt did was give you all that sand with the shadows, making repetition. The repetition in the foreground quickly gets you to the subject, the surfer. Opinion plays into whether or not you actually like this photo, but there is no doubt this is better than having a horizon that runs through the middle of the frame and there is an equal amount of sky and sand.

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To make this interesting composition of the Ojai Valley Museum, I had to lie on my stomach on the sidewalk with traffic whipping by and people yelling at me. It didn’t make for an amazing picture, but it does look better than just slowing down the car while we drove by to take one out the window. This photo is a good example of how to take what would have been an average picture of a building and make it unique by getting low and showing it fresh.

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 Getting higher could mean more than just standing on a step latter or walking up a hill or stairs. It could be that you just need to get closer and above your subject. In this photo by Keith Smiley he made the shapes and lines more interesting by standing above our dinner of nearly frozen wienies.

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Keith also made this shot of a Ronald Reagan painting a bit more unique by standing to the side. Don’t strictly think in lowering yourself or moving closer.

The main point of thinking this way is making your picture different. If you have time, walk around to find the best composition possible. In all of the pictures I have shown you there is no doubt what you are supposed to see. The authors of these photographs saw their subject, and found an angle that represented how they saw it.

Be creative. Be unique. Show us what you really see.

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3 Responses to “Since you can’t tilt the earth, move your camera”

  1. I LOVE the photos! Very unique…and I like the advice and tips. Keep those coming!! I loved the “getting high” comment too! haha

  2. Keith Smiley Says:

    I’ll bill you later for the pictures. And you can pay in beenie weenies.

  3. […] I think you will be inspired through looking at her work. One of the best ways to become a better photographer, in my opinion, is look at work that is better than what you know how to do. Recognizing good work helps you to try and think about how it was done, copy it, but also improve it. This doesn’t go down to exact ideas. I mean everything. You see a photo with motion blur and wonder how they did it, so you learn it. Or you see an interesting composition and check into it, and end up learning about the six foot-six rule.  […]

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