The best view can often be found just beneath your feet. If you’re not careful, you’ll stomp right over it. In this tutorial, I’ll reveal how to expand your potential choices by simply lying on the ground. Why limit your compositions to the traditional perspectives? Prepare to get your jeans dirty and capture some compelling images.
In New York City, it’s tempting to crane your neck towards the massive skyscrapers. After a soaking rain however, the better opportunity is actually found in the street. The standing water provides a mirror like reflection of the surrounding buildings. Just as no two snowflakes are equal, the same is true with puddles. To find your shot, get down and explore it from all angles.
If you walk up to an animal in the wild it will likely flee in fear. By crawling, you become far less threatening. Working from this bug’s eye perspective, the photo takes on a more revealing look at their habitat. To add more impact, use a wide aperture like f4. This will turn foreground elements such as grass and flowers into soft washes of color.
While on the ground, try holding the camera in both portrait and landscape orientation. Setting up the vertical frame may initially be somewhat awkward, but the results are worth it. When you get home you’ll be glad to have more options to choose from. I’ve had instances where I like the horizontal composition better, but a client prefers the other. To cover all possibilities, shoot it both ways.
There are occasions when placing the camera on the floor will yield the best photo. This was the case at the very dimly lit cathedral in Siena, Italy. Tripods were not permitted, and a long shutter speed was necessary for a proper exposure. In order to photograph the Gothic interior, I rested the camera on the floor using my camera bag to angle it upwards. The two second timer was used to trip the shutter and record the photo. The security guards didn’t hassle me for this, and I got a sharp photo of the impressive structure.
You’ll be amazed at just how much beauty can be found on the ground. Sometimes it happens when you least expect it. My favorite find actually came in the parking lot of a shopping center. A light mist had just fallen, turning the pavement inky black. This rainwater mixed with the motor oil from a leaking car. The result was a brilliant pattern of vibrant colors. It was a reminder to always keep a camera nearby.
Photos and Text by Chris Corradino