How Low to Go?
I’ve written many times about getting down low when shooting. The whole thing about getting down low is to control the background so the subject pops. This need comes from shooting a subject low to the ground and pointing the lens down captures too much background or, shooting up not only controls the background but adds drama. When standing up how do you know how low you need to go, or even if you need to go low in the first place? It starts with seeing that the subject is blending in with the background. After that, it’s just getting down a lot and knowing if it’s worth it or not.
Here are two photos of the same American Golden Plover and one is working and one is not. Can you tell which? I love the action of the tail in the top photo and the biology and calm of the bottom photo. That said, the light at the top of the frame in the top photo drives me nuts! The eye goes up there and there it stays. The bottom photo the background permits the eye to go around and around searching through the information to gather the story. Now getting down with a D5 / 800mm gracefully and quiet enough not to bother a nesting bird is a challenge in itself. Using the Gitzo GT5563GS takes no more than pull out the lock on the collar and flattening the rig. So when you get in position and you see you’re too low, simply take just ONE leg up just ONE notch and you can fine tune the background like you see above. The key is to SEE that bright light at the top of the frame because when you do, you know the answer to how low to go!