You have finalised your subject. You have a fairly decent composition in your head and you know how you want to shoot. You can shoot your subject from the eye level or from the top or from below. Notice how altering your position, changes the elements in your composition. Certain elements are added, certain others negated as you shift the camera and change your position. Changing your viewpoint or altering your shooting position often enhances your composition adding more drama or character to your image. So what are the different levels that photographers use? And how does changing your viewpoint affect your composition and ultimately your shot?

Shooting at eye level

The most common way to shoot is from the eye level. Also called the ‘neutral shot’, shooting at eye level gives you an instant connect with your subject. It shows the subject as we see them in real life. It makes it easier to make sharper images and you have more pleasing backgrounds. Eye level shots are used mostly in wildlife photography. By changing the distance between your subject and the background by getting down to eye level, you get a cleaner composition and put more emphasis on your subject.

Shooting from below

Also known as the ‘worm’s eye view’, low level shots are used specifically to emphasize the greatness of the subject. BY shooting from a low angle you can make your subject appear more interesting by giving a totally different perspective to the shot. Subjects appear more powerful and dominant when shot from a low angle. Shooting from a low angle makes the (objects in the) foreground more prominent. A low angle shot will help you get more elements in your composition by reducing the vertical space between subjects. A great technique used by photographers is to shoot leading lines from a low level. It creates a powerful impact in the image and leads the viewer’s eyes to linger longer on the subject.

The High angle shot

Also known as the ‘bird’s eye view’ the high angle shot captures the subject from a higher level. A high angle shot can make your subject appear smaller, weak, childlike and less threatening. It puts the cameraman in a position of power. High angle shots are especially used to portray the vulnerability of the subject. Shooting from above is also helpful when you are shooting patterns. Cityscapes or a marketplace get more details when shot from a high angle. Stairwells are great subjects for high angle shots. While shooting a stairwell, Try and include a person in your shot to get a strong focal point. Landscape photographers use the high angle shot to great advantage. What seems ordinary at ground level, turns into beautiful works of art when shot from above.

The Dutch Tilt

The Dutch Tilt is when you hold your camera at an angle and shoot. The horizontal line is not parallel to bottom of the frame and the vertical lines form an angle with the sides of the frame. The Dutch angle is used mostly to fit more elements (mainly vertical) into your frame. Great heights can be captured just by tilting your camera a bit. The Dutch tilt is also used to shoot cars in showrooms.to emphasize the grandeur of the subject. Depending on how you use it, you can use this to show instability, imbalance or humour. The Dutch angle is mostly used in cinematography. Interesting fact # the Dutch angle is also often called the ‘Batman angle’ because it was used extensively to shoot the Batman series in the 60s.