Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Get Low For Big Impact
Change your camera angle to free your wildlife shots from cluttered, distracting backgrounds
It was a stifling late August morning. I lay in wet mud on the South Flats of the East Pond at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, New York. A thousand no-see-ums chewed on the exposed skin on the back of my hands. Ten feet away, a gorgeous juvenile least sandpiper slept peacefully.”
Though a lot has changed in those 25 years, one thing remains the same: Getting down on the ground with your gear will enable you to create images that are both pleasing and intimate. And with a telephoto lens and good technique, your subject will be in sharp focus while your foregrounds and backgrounds will be rendered as suffused swatches of out-of-focus color.
I can’t help myself; I just love the look of images created at the subject’s eye level.
Camera And Lens Support
The first consideration is supporting your lens while you’re flat on the ground. If I know in advance that I’ll be photographing sandpipers and plovers on hard sand beaches or muddy flats, I use my Panning Ground Pod, a flat metal support with a clamp that I use when working in perfectly flat areas. The lens foot goes into the clamp and the whole rig is placed on the ground. When working on soft sand or grass where I need to be a bit higher, the Skimmer II is a better option. Made of crush-proof, injection-molded plastic, it’s rugged yet weighs less than a pound; it’s about the size and shape of a large salad bowl. I spin the gimbal head off the tripod, mount it on the Skimmer, and attach the lens. A second advantage of the Skimmer is that it’s easier to follow moving subjects with it.
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