In a previous tip I talked about looking for high vantage points for landscapes and other wide shots, but the idea is just as useful for smaller subjects, particularly garden photos. A few years ago after realizing that I was shooting all of my garden photos from approximately the same height (coincidentally, my eye level), I decided that varying the angle more might add some variety to my shots. I do a lot of garden shots laying on my stomach or my side already, so what was missing was height. I tried some shots with a 6' step ladder and for some shots, particularly wide shots of entire garden beds, that worked fine, but the angle was too steep for closer shots of smaller areas. It looked like a giant had been shooting the photos (though I have shot some photos of my garden from a second-story bedroom window and they look kind of cool).
Next I tried a kitchen stool, just a small white plastic Rubbermaid step stool and it was perfect. Even though it only bought me about another foot of shooting height, the difference in the angle was noticeable and it seemed higher, yet not extreme. Better still, because I was only a foot higher, I was able to use my smaller tripod (a Bogen/Manfrotto 3021). I have a much taller tripod (a Bogen/Manfrotto 3047) but it weighs a lot more and I'm less likely to haul it around the garden. The plastic stool was great and I can throw it in the car for road trips. It makes an excellent platform to get a foot above the crowds at parades or fireworks, etc. Of course, considering the stool only cost about $5 I should probably break down and buy one to keep in the car--I'll have to put it on the next shopping list.
Height is a great thing in composing photos because it provides just enough of a tweak to the composition that people notice the difference without it being an obvious gimmick. Try it!
3 days ago