Thursday, October 25, 2012

Get Low

"Edge of the World" - Florida Bay - Everglades National Park
It's easy to get stuck in a rut with photography. After your 500,000th image, it might feel like you've done it all before. Luckily though, it's often just as easy to break out and explore new possibilities by simply changing your perspective. I get inspiration from other photographers all the time. In fact, it's part of my daily routine to research other artists and see what they're doing. One photographer in particular, John Spohrer, based out of Apalachicola, Florida would create these arrestingly dramatic images by shooting a low angle on water. Simple, right?  This isn't necessarily an Einstein moment but this technique is often overlooked by photographers. When applied in the right situations, it can completely alter the depth and feel of your images.

Take this scene for example. To me, this is a standard one-dimensional view of a summer squall in Florida Bay. You have some water, you have some storm clouds, all of which seem to appear on the same visual plane. While this image might be good for an advertisement or calendar, to me, I'm not moved to feel anything when I look at it. 

Holding my camera just above the water's edge over the boat with a wide angle lens (Canon 16-35mm) and employing fast shutter speeds by means of high ISO I made a series of images without looking through the viewfinder. Only an inch above the water, this proved a little dangerous as a rogue wave lapped the base of my camera. Not good. Still, I was able to make a few frames from this new perspective. What resulted was this very multi-dimensional image which gives a turbulent and almost apocalyptic aura. The way the water eliminates the horizon creates a sense of impending doom, like Columbus must have imagined when sailing towards the edge of the Earth. All I had to do was hold my camera close to the water. 

Here are a few more dualities so you can see the benefit of simply changing your perspective. To me, the lower angles just have a way of filling the space more efficiently. Take note how your eyes want to linger a little more. Who knows though, maybe you'll like the standard images better. I'm curious to hear what you think. 

With the low angle, you get much more action and interesting patterns in the water from reflected light. This way, the water doesn't just become empty space, but instead helps define and draw your eye into the subject.  

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