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!!!!
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”
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
- 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!!!!