Getting Low – Photography Experiments

Get lowAlready on day 9 of 40 Photography Experiments and it’s time to get down low. Really low.

For today’s experiment you might get a little dirty, but that’s okay. If your camera has a flip screen, now is the time it will shine.

Here’s the experiment you can run:

1) Set your camera on Aperture Mode or Manual Mode if you are feeling up to it. Choose an f-stop around f/6.3. ISO set to suit your lighting. As these experiments go on, I’ll be giving you less instruction in this regard, so practice, practice, practice!

2) For the next 24 hours you are officially BANNED from taking a photo at a height about your knees.

3) Subject matter is up to you, but make sure you get 10 shots in today.


Shooting from a low angle will give you a different view of the world. Everyday scenes take on a different feel from a low angle.

So often pictures are taken from a comfortable height (by the way, if you have trouble getting low to the ground, you can practice by simply holding the camera down to a low height and firing off a bunch of shots while changing the angle of the camera slightly. Please don’t force yourself onto the ground if it is painful. Another idea is to use a monopod and set your camera on self-timer, then hold the camera upside down and low to get your shot. It’s digital and each shot is essentially free, so play around and see what happens. Am I still in a parenthetical phrase?).

Let’s start that over. So often pictures are taken from a comfortable height and this is a good way to take pictures like everyone else, never standing out from the pack. If you want something different, be different and try a new angle.

Things To Consider

  • Instead of keeping your camera level to the ground, change angles.
  • Vary your focus point for different effects.
  • Pan up slightly.
  • Did you know your tripod might help with these photos? Many tripods have a center column that can invert and hold a camera upside down and close to the ground. I used the setup you see at right to shoot some time-lapse and regular video of leafcutter ants in the Amazon basin while keeping my clothes clean.
  • Shoot not only objects that are also down low, but shoot higher subjects you would have shot if standing up.
  • Pets and kids work well with this technique.


Below are just a few examples to get your creative juices flowing. All were shot from knee height or below. Sometimes framing is hard to accomplish if you are not looking at the screen, that’s why I suggest using it when you can. Or the viewfinder.

If you have time, please post some results in the comments section below. I love to see what people come up with for this experiment.

Questions?  Pop ’em like Pez in the comments section below. or email me at

Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure, and its companion 40 Photography Experiments, are series written by professional photographer Peter West Carey. The series are designed to unravel the mysteries of photography, helping you can take better pictures. Subscribe here to receive all the updates and bonus material. Your comments are always welcome.

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