How To: Know Whether to Shoot From High or Low

Eye level VS from above...it's all about the subject

Shooting from Above
You don’t need a cherry picker to get your camera high. Thread it onto a monopod and hoist away—a great way to get above the heads in a crowd.

Tips for getting the shot:
•Fire the shutter using your camera’s 10-sec self-timer.

•Switch to manual focus and prefocus before lifting the camera.

•Shoot in aperture-priority and set a small aperture for maximum depth of field.

•Use an ultrawide lens and fine-tune the composition later by cropping in software.

•Tilt the camera slightly downward on the monopod’s head to include more foreground.

•Try this with a lightweight tripod if you don’t own a monopod.

Shooting from Eye Level
While unusual vantage points can make a shot, if your subject has eyes¬—be it a pet, child, or hippopotamus—the best point of view is often at eye level, at least to start. If you can get eye contact, all the better.

But how do you get eye-to-eye with a 1,700-pound hippo? Not by jumping into the water with it. Gerardo Soria of Valencia, Spain was able to take this shot at his city’s famous Bioparc Zoo. Its hippo enclosure was cleverly designed to allow him to see the animals both above and below the waterline. Moreover, the waterline is at a height to allow adult visitors to get eye to eye with the hippos.

“I placed my camera, a Canon EOS 40D with a 70–300mm f/4-5.6 IS zoom, against the hippo pond’s glass wall,” Soria says.

With the lens less than half an inch above the water level, he had the perfect vantage point: If the beast would look in his direction. “I stood there for almost 30 minutes before he made eye contact,” says this long-suffering photographer.

Patience helped here—the vantage point makes the shot.