Monal-large

The above Image of the Himalayan Monal was taken one early Morning as the sun was just rising. The tree, the early morning light, the colors of the bird and the Background which was far far away, coupled with my  Telephoto Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens resulted in this shot.

We all have at times seen beautiful, breath-taking Images of birds and Mammals and then wondered how in the world did he make that shot. Often times we have credited the costly Camera and the Super telephoto length of the Lens being used and dismissed the pain and creativity involved in getting that shot. But do you know that one could have the costliest camera in the world, the longest telephoto lens and still make crappy shots!!!!

The above Images of the same Mistle-thrush were taken some 5 minutes apart with my Canon 400mm f/5.6 on a Canon 550D. The image on the left was taken from above eye level and for the second one I laid down on the ground and took the shot, as can be seen the image on the right looks far more pleasing than the one on the left.

The above Images of the same Mistle-thrush were taken some 5 minutes apart with my Canon 400mm f/5.6 on a Canon 550D. The image on the left was taken from above eye level and for the second one I laid down on the ground and took the shot, as can be seen the image on the right looks far more pleasing than the one on the left.

There are a multiple number of factors which might go into making an ordinary wildlife shot look like an absolutely beautiful one, namely time of shooting, type of light (Diffused, Direct, Backlit, Side-light), distance of Subject from Camera, distracting elements within the frame, Angle of shooting, Focal length, the post processing of the image and a lot of other factors. Today we discuss about the one technique that in itself will cause images to stand out. Today we discuss about “Shooting birds at eye level”

This Ultramarine Flycatcher was a regular at this tree every morning, so I sat at this tree and took a note of some perches which would give me a clear background and waited patiently for the bird to come to one of these, it came and gave me this shot (The BG here is a mountain at least a Kilometer away)

This Ultramarine Flycatcher was a regular at this tree every morning, so I sat at this tree and took a note of some perches which would give me a clear background and waited patiently for the bird to come to one of these, it came and gave me this shot (The BG here is a mountain at least a Kilometer away)

Shooting at eye level basically means that we go to the eye level of the subject to get our shots. Which implies that we might have to lay on the ground, climb to higher and sometime precarious perches, get ourselves wet and dirty by going into water or mud etc. etc. The list is endless and so are the many Aerobatic and Yogic positions we assume while taking our shots, but the difference which going eye level makes to shots is magical.

A lot of these Dark-sided flycatchers were hopping on field of green pasture, I selected this moss covered log of wood as my perch, adjusted my position so that I would get a smooth, buttery background, focused on this log and then waited for some 15 minutes or so hoping that someone would show up. Fortunately this guy did and gave me this shot.

A lot of these Dark-sided flycatchers were hopping on field of green pasture, I selected this moss covered log of wood as my perch, adjusted my position so that I would get a smooth, buttery background, focused on this log and then waited for some 15 minutes or so hoping that someone would show up. Fortunately this guy did and gave me this shot.

One of the biggest advantage of going eye level is that the background of the subject is at a considerable distance and at times it is at infinity. When shooting from above eye level the background to the subject distance is almost always small, but going eye level helps separate the background from the subject and gives a nice, pleasing, unobtrusive background, combine that with the shallow depth of field which telephoto and macro lenses offer and we have a very pleasing image.

Shooting wildlife at eye level also implies that one respects the subject, he or she intends to shoot. Shooting at eye level draws us into their world and helps create a more intimate connection with the subject, thereby creating a very powerful image something which would be missing if we shoot it from a higher level.

The above Image of Asian-Barred Owlet clearly shows the Impact shooting at eye level can bring to an Image.

The above Image of Asian-Barred Owlet clearly shows the Impact shooting at eye level can bring to an Image.

Getting eyes sharp is critical in making impacting wildlife shot in most cases, and being parallel to the eyes of the subject makes sure that they are in sharp focus, which helps to create images which leave an impact and connect with the viewers.

We would be discussing this and a lot more tips and tricks when on field this winter in the beautiful Himalayas of Uttarakhand at our Bird Photography Expeditions at Makkumath. Details here

All of my upcoming expeditions listed here

The above Image of Blue-capped Redstart was taken at eye-level by going almost flat on the ground, the background to subject distance however here is very less and due to the uneven light the image doesn’t looks that appealing to have an Impact on the viewer

The above Image of Blue-capped Redstart was taken at eye-level by going almost flat on the ground, the background to subject distance however here is very less and due to the uneven light the image doesn’t looks that appealing to have an Impact on the viewer

One should however be careful in the selection of the Background for the Image. Even the most excellent of eye level shots could be ruined by that bright patch in the background, the bush immediate to the subject, a twig running through the frame or a branch popping out of the subjects head.

One more example of an eye level shot with a busy and distracting background. This Striated Laughing thrush is at eye level, however the branches, twigs and leaves are all over the frame and ruin the beauty of the shot.

One more example of an eye level shot with a busy and distracting background. This Striated Laughing thrush is at eye level, however the branches, twigs and leaves are all over the frame and ruin the beauty of the shot.

Having said that, there are a lot of creative ways in which one could make amazing shots from shooting above and below the subject, shooting wide angles, beautiful habitat shots and in no way should that be discounted. But this is worth a try and shooting your subjects at eye level will absolutely add magic to your images and take you a huge step further in terms of being a Photographer.

 

To Summarize

  • Shoot at the level of your subject
  • Use the Telephoto end of your zoom range
  • Use as wide Aperture as possible (Depending on your subject distance)
  • Try to shoot parallel to your Subject’s body
  • Look for perches where the Background is far off and compliments the subject
  • Avoid distracting and flashy backgrounds.
  • Get ready to roll and rumble in the dirt !!!!
  • And lastly develop a lot of Patience

 

Hope this Helps!!!!


3 Comments


Shooting in Golden Light – Creative PraveenCreative Praveen Reply November 19, 2015

[…] In continuation from my earlier blog, today I would like to discuss the importance of, and the impact which “Shooting in Golden Light” can add to an image. If you have not read do check out the earlier blog “Shooting at eye level” here. […]

Shooting on a Tripod – Creative PraveenCreative Praveen Reply November 29, 2015

[…] which i personally consider critical to making good images. Please do read the first two blogs of “Shooting at Eye Level” and “Shooting in Golden […]

Rules of Composition- Photography – Creative PraveenCreative Praveen Reply January 14, 2016

[…] have written a full blog about the importance of shooting at eye level, it basically means that instead of shooting from up, one goes to the eye level of the subject and […]


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