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The Low-Down on Low Angles

There are times when wider shots look flat and one cameras record impressive high resolution images however this clarity can also be a disadvantage.

In contrast to the telephoto lens, the wide-angle end of a zoom lens shows everything in the frame in sharp focus. Why is that?

  • Bright exterior scenes automatically use small iris/aperture settings eg. f8 to f11
  • Small iris settings in conjunction with wide-angles result in images with way too much depth-of-field – even specs of dust on the front glass of the lens are in focus
Why is this not so good?
  • HD images need soft focus foregrounds to neutralise a harsh video look
  • With everything in sharp focus, the viewer's attention cannot be directed to the best part of the composition – there is too much to to see
  • Sharp HD pictures do not always make arresting wide shots

Unless there is a strong foreground element, there are no layers to make the shot appealing. There is a way to fix this…

Enter low-angles

Low-angles work well in a number of ways. Firstly, they can help to include foregrounds relevant to the location, foregrounds that may not be noticed at eye level. Also they provide an strong visual perspective to add strength to what may otherwise be a very ordinary shot.

It is not hard to find objects to create immediate foreground and the result can be a scene with depth.

Use the fold-out LCD panel

That fold-out LCD screen on most camcorders is perfect for shooting low because they let you find the frame quickly and still monitor the shot without being uncomfortable.

Placing the camera on a small tripod or even resting on a camera bag introduces a refreshing perspective that can instantly transform the scene.

Visual impact

Low wide angle shots can have powerful impact and while not always appropriate, they offer a perspective that can exaggerate the feeling of size or power. A vehicle passing close by a camera placed low to to ground has a strong visual presence, especially when the camera is close as the vehicle passes. This is enhanced by the sound of the engine as the vehicle passes by.

© 2013 Pieter de Vries ACS