I’m not sure if it was the high pitch calls of a bird of prey or my fiancee screaming out to me that caught my attention first but I sprang from my office chair to look outside. There in front of my driveway was a small hawk(which turned out to be a Merlin) sitting on prey and my Fiancee now heading out towards it in her PJ’s. Hoping it wouldn’t flush I quickly grabbed my camera and rushed out to the scene.
Shoe less I walked out slowly over the wet pavement as Jenelle returned to the house. The Merlin was focusing on the near by crows which were none to pleased at its presence. Getting into my usual low shooting position I captured the following image.
This is one of the only times I have ever photographed a hawk on prey and though the surrounding environment wasn’t ideal to make a great image I felt I made the best of the opportunity in front of me. Spotting an on coming dog walker the Merlin moved over to a neighbors lawn briefly(see image below) before moving on.
Reviewing the images when I returned to my house I was pleased to see that my low shooting perspective really helped minimize the fact that my subject was perched on a road. Which got me thinking about writing another blog post about the topic of photographing in a low shooting position. (you can read my previous post on this topic here)
If I had to pick one thing that I feel that can truly improve anyone’s photography when it comes to Wildlife it would be a low POV shooting style. It truly is a game changer and I hope I can shed some light on why with these images below.
These images where taken on my front lawn using a Halloween prop which looks like a Crow(I guess lol). What I want to illustrate for you is the difference your shooting position makes. All images where taken with my D850 and Nikkor 500mm F4 @ F5.6. The only thing that changed in these images were the height of my shooting position.
Here I started off laying completely flat on the grass with my lens resting on my hand which was resting on the ground. You can see that the subject is separated nicely from the background and foreground. The BG has a beautiful soft blur as well as FG. Being in this position the BG in my scene becomes the distant tree line which was about 50 feet away. Since the BG is so far away it melts into this beautiful soft mix of color showing no details of the foliage.
Next I sat up on my butt and bent down slightly so the lens was about a foot or so from the ground. As you can see the background has changed now to the grass behind the subject which is only about 5 feet away. Hence way the BG and FG aren’t as smooth like the previous image
Now up on my knees and sitting up straight you can clearly see the BG is starting to get much more detailed and the subject doesn’t stand out nearly as much. Your BG is now only about 2 feet away meaning the camera will capture more of its details.
Finally I am now in the standing position looking down on my subject and well I think the image speaks for itself.
As you can clearly see changing your shooting position can drastically change the way an image/scene looks and in my opinion photographing eye level with your subject drastically improves your image
Here is a real world example from the field when I was out photographing a Killdeer in Terrenceville, NL a few years back. In the first image you can see I am looking more down on my subject as I think I was sitting on my butt trying to slowly get into my low POV position.
Here in this second image you can see the difference the flat laying position makes
Before going I should point out that there is one huge disadvantage to this position; it becomes uncomfortable over long periods of time. It tends to put a lot of pressure on your lower back and neck since I typically shoot hand held. But hey…no pain no gain right :)
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Feel free to leave a comment below as I would love to know what you think about these post or if you have any suggestions for future posts.