Choose a Perspective for Your Nature Photo

Many landscape and nature photographers take all their pictures from an upright position, but you’ll capture more interesting photographs if you choose a unique vantage point from which to photograph a scene.

The vantage point for some photographs will be obvious, as outlined in the rules of composition. When you aren't sure which vantage point to use for an image, take the easy shot first, then get creative.

People look, but they don’t always see. Beginning photographers look through the viewfinder or at the camera LCD monitor, but they don’t really see the elements of a picture in the scene before them. Seeing is noticing everything that’s in front of you and distilling it into a compelling image that people will want to spend some time looking at.

The litmus test is when you show your photography to other people. If they just take a casual glance at your photography, you’ve failed the test. If they say something like, “Wow, that’s beautiful,” you’ve passed the test.

You may get a backhanded compliment like, “Wow, you must have a great camera.” If you get a comment like that, smile and say, “It isn't the camera that composes and takes the picture, it’s the photographer. My camera is merely a tool I use to express my vision.” This may sound arrogant, but it’s the truth.

Dropping to one knee can be painful, especially on hard terrain. If you find that you frequently shoot from a low vantage point, pick up a gardener’s kneeling pad. The pad is small enough to comfortably carry, will keep you from soiling the knee of a pant leg, and definitely is easier on your body.

Climbing to a higher vantage point and shooting down on a scene provides a perspective that often implies a sense of spaciousness and majesty when you’re photographing a scene like Yosemite Valley. This image was photographed from Washburn Point, which is approximately 3,000 feet above the floor of the valley.

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There’s nothing that says you can’t break a rule and tilt the camera on an angle. This won’t work for every type of image, but can be used to create an abstract image of a tree, for example. Another option is to point the camera up when photographing a tree like a banyan.

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