How Do They Do That? Unusual Angles :: Digital Photo Secrets

How Do They Do That? Unusual Angles

by David Peterson 3 comments

Angles are everything in photography. They’re also the reason photography is so fun. What other hobby gives you the chance to see things from some of the most bizarre angles out there? Photography helps us step outside of the human perspective, and when we do this, the creative possibilities are innumerable. Here are a few ways you can adjust your perspective and take your photography to beautiful and unknown places.

Unusual angles are everywhere. The only problem is that most of us are afraid to try them. We’re all a shy bunch, and when we’re taking photos, we’re usually out in public. You don’t have to own an expensive digital SLR to play with unusual angles. You just need the willingness to get in a little closer, a little lower, a little more underneath, and a little more above. You might look a little odd while you’re doing it, but that’s the territory that comes with being a photographer. The more you roll around on the ground in plain view, the more fun it becomes!

Those of you who aren’t yet willing to look the part can try out a few small variations. Instead of taking family portraits at eye level, try getting down one knee instead. You can also try this. The next time your toddler starts making a mess, get down to her level and start taking pictures. You’ll be in the comfort of your own home, and you’ll see the difference it makes. This should be enough to convince you to take your newfound love of bizarre angles to the streets.

Composition Is Still King

Remember that just because you’re trying out a new angle doesn’t mean you should throw out all of the rules of composition. Weird photos don’t look good because they’re weird. They look good because, in spite of choosing an unusual angle, the photographer took the time to make sure the photo is visually interesting. Don’t forget to avoid placing your subject in the center of the photograph. Use those unusual angles to frame the photograph in a way that grabs your viewer’s attention.

The photo at the top of this tutorial is a good example. It’s taken from a strange perspective, but it still adheres to a few composition rules. The subjects in the photo aren’t centered. They revolve around the center. As your eye enters the photo, it follows along the cloudy sky, taking note of the basketball hoop and the athlete. It then exits on the other side. This is photo with movement, and the trees help to provide a nice frame for it.

Your Lens Determines The Kinds Of Angles You Can Get

Aside from just trying out weird angles, there is an abundance of photographer’s tools that can help you create photos that show a different perspective. You can try wideangle lenses, fisheye lenses, telephoto lenses, macro lenses, and converters (if you own an advanced point and shoot). Here are a few ways you can use these attachments to shift your viewpoint.

Fisheye Lens

Perhaps the most commonly used lenses for creating unusual angles are the wideangle and fisheye lenses. These lenses basically allow you “zoom out” further than the standard human range of vision, giving you an almost insect-like experience. These kinds of lenses are best when you’re photographing something very closeup.

You’ve probably seen a lot of wideangle landscape photographs. Most of these photos look their best when the photographer gets up close and personal with some kind of subject in the foreground. This subject could be anything from a shrub to the wheel well of a car. Its purpose is to provide a sense of scale, something the viewer can use to measure the rest of the scene against.

Telephoto lenses also produce an interesting effect if you’re far away enough. When you zoom in further than 200mm, your image starts to flatten. Faces lose definition, people look like they’re stuck to the wall, and you can no longer tell how far away the mountain is. I particularly like this perspective when I’m photographing large crowds. It gives the viewer a creepy sort of “big brother” feeling, as if everyone is blending in without even knowing it.

Unusual angles are everywhere you look if you’re willing to take the time to find them. Not every bizarre angle will give you the kind of photo you want, but almost all of them are worth giving a try. As you experiment more and more, you’ll come up with better ideas to apply to your other photos.

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  1. David Peterson says:

    Hi Addixon,

    Yes, a very wide angle lens (sometimes called a Fish Eye Lens) was used for that shot to get the trees on both sides.


  2. Addixon says:

    Thanks for the great info. Which lens should be us to achieve the effect of that basketball hoop and sky photo. I've seen such angle photo very often just didn't have a chance to confirm the tool used. Wide angle lens? Thanks

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