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Composition – High and Low

Changing your viewpoint is not only a great way to see your subject differently, but can unblock your creativity if you’re having difficulty finding an approach.

Taking photographs is a simple enough process. We switch on our camera, raise it to our eye – or compose with the rear LCD – and take the shot, right? There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but when was the last time you took a picture at anything other than head height? If it’s been a while, then your images may be suffering as a result. Consistently shooting from the same height can lead to a visual monotony, so it’s time to inject some life into your shots by trying alternative viewpoints. Here’s how.

Hit the Ground

Let’s start at the bottom and go for some ground-level shooting. Most FUJIFILM cameras offer a tilting LCD, so get the screen flipped to 90° and hold the camera down as low as possible. You can easily support it using a rolled-up jacket or camera bag. This type of approach is great for close-up subjects, including flowers and tame animals, but it can also be really cool to emphasize the height of buildings. Pointing your camera up to shoot tall buildings results in a phenomenon known as converging verticals, where the top of the building leans in, but this can be used to dramatic effect.
Wide-angle lenses often go hand in hand with low viewpoints for powerful shots. They don’t suit every subject, but optics like the XF16mmF2.8 R WR or XF18mmF2 R are certainly worth a try!

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Composition – High and Low© Michael Melford

Shoot from the Hip

Keep that screen flipped out to 90° for this technique and see how the world looks when you compose shots from waist height. It only represents a subtle change from head height shooting, but it can make a big difference, especially if you use it to shoot subjects, including portraits of kids or animals. This lower viewpoint can work on sports subjects as well; you’ll see photographers at sporting events sitting on cases around the outside of a field for this reason.
The shooting-from-the-hip technique also works for street photography. If your FUJIFILM camera has touch AF, make sure it’s switched on for easy focusing and capture. If you don’t, try presetting exposure and focus manually. Prefocus your lens to around 2m away, then set a shutter speed of 1/125 sec, an aperture of F5.6 and leave the ISO on auto – it will help you work quickly and get plenty of shots in focus.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Composition – High and Low© Afton Almaraz

Put Your Hands Up

Love or hate selfies, they have taught us the benefits of holding our cameras above our heads! But rather than pointing the camera at yourself, point it away from you and see how it can change the way you photograph different subjects.
If you own a FUJIFILM camera with a tilting screen, be sure to angle it 45° down so you can see the screen easily when it’s held above you. You might also need to increase screen brightness to make it easier to compose. To do this, select SET UP > SCREEN SET-UP > LCD BRIGHTNESS.
Shooting with the camera held above your head is a great way of shooting over crowds and can also make for dynamic portraits, eye-catching landscapes and – when combined with a wide angle lens – fully immersive sports shots.
Be sure to have the camera strap wrapped around your wrist for added security and to avoid injury.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Composition – High and Low© Tiffany Reed Briley

Head for Heights

Holding a camera above your head still not high enough? You need to climb. Up some steps, up a ladder, a hill, a mountain, a skyscraper; anything that gets you to a higher viewpoint and, in turn, a very different view of the world. Once you’ve reached your lofty perch, try using both wide angle and telephoto lenses to emphasize space or pick out details according to the effect you’re trying to create.
Obviously, whenever you go for an elevated viewpoint, please do so safely. You don’t need to put your life at risk to create awesome photographs.

Learn photography with Fujifilm, Composition – High and Low© Michael Melford

Your Next Steps

    • CHALLENGE This week, don’t photograph anything from head height. You must stoop, kneel, sit, lie, jump or stretch instead to find new and exciting viewpoints. Post your five best pictures to social media with the hashtag #MyFujifilmLegacy. You can also submit your work here for a chance to be featured on our social media channels

Header image © Nicole Young