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Using the Bird's-Eye View in Your Photos

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 4/27/2011

Here are some practical tips for taking bird's eye view photographs.

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    Changing Digital Photography

    Wikipedia User: SGGH, Public Domain So much of what has created the categories of photography traditionally has been perspective and placement, and that has transferred to the digital world. Digital photography has given so many more options for developing images, and the lightweight nature of the equipment has opened up the ability to get different angles that most independent photographers would never have been able to get. Bird's eye view photography is a form that looks down on a landscape, object, or collection of objects from a high location, which is supposed to mimic the position that a bird would see from. The bird's eye view is not unique to photography, and people have been trying to copy this point of view through centuries of fine arts. To achieve great bird's eye view photographs there are a few things you can try out, some of which are new to digital photography and some come from the whole tradition of visual arts.

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    Positioning

    The most important thing to remember is that when you are performing photography from a bird's eye view you are going to have to position yourself in a high location that allows you to look down, which means that if you are on a platform of some sort then you are going to be craned up against the ledge. What this means is that you are going to have to be as safe as possible, both because this could result in a dramatic accident and because you need to be stable otherwise you will not be able to consider proper framing. Make sure to lock down on a heavy, stable tripod with a hydraulic head. This is going to allow you to change the positioning without putting yourself into an awkward stance as a photographer. If you do not have the option to remain connected to the eye piece of your DSLR camera then you are going to want to take several test shots, with which you can adjust the framing, position, shutter speed, and iris.

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    Shutter Speed

    Because of the distance between the subject plane, being the ground, and the camera you have the potential for motion blur. Since almost every situation possible for bird's eye view photography are outside, you get the option to push up to a fast shutter speed. This will decrease the chances of motion blur, but if you want that to be part of your shot then you should bring your shutter speed below 1/60. Normally the fast shutter speed would allow you to freehand the camera without problem, but you should maintain the tripod if you are ledge positioned.

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    The Structure

    Shooting from a bird's eye view is not possible without the support of an extended structure. This means that you can perform this type of digital photography from the top of a large tower or building, from the window of a plane, or from a variety of different structures. What this means, essentially, is that the this type of photography is not possible without the acknowledgment of the structure that made it possible. You have two choices then, provide an element of the structure in the photo or try to keep the image clean by positioning the camera at an angle rather than a strait down look.

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    Photo Editing

    The lighting, as well as the foreign object position, is going to be more out of your control than in other forms of external photography. To make your final photo usable you are going to want to put it through a photo editing process to bring out certain colors, up the contrast, and general design the photo to further reflect your vision. How many features you use in Adobe Photoshop depends on the overall purpose of the photo, and if this is a form of photojournalism then you may not even want to alter it.

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    References

    Photo: www.wikipedia.com (Public Domain)

    Source: author's own experience.