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Low Angle Photography

Updated: Jan 19

1. Introduction


Lion photographed at eye level with low angle camera set up.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 70-200mm at 200mm. 1/400sec @ f/2.8 ISO 560 © Randall Ball Photography

Low angle photography is a technique that can bring a fresh perspective to wildlife photography. By capturing images from a lower vantage point, photographers can

create more dynamic and dramatic shots of animals in their natural habitats. One way

to achieve this is by using a camera on monopod inverted and lowered towards the ground. Photographers have been using a cameras on inverted monopods for years and I had used them as well, but seeing that little flip out screen on the back of my camera was starting to be a struggle, especially these days! I have also noticed videographers using field monitors to film with, so I thought, what if I could use a monitor and mount it at the other end of the monopod so I could easily see what my camera is seeing? How great would that be? Well with mirrorless cameras and their EVF's and a little "tinkering around", I managed to come up with a "setup".


Using a monitor on the other end of the monopod allows photographers to view their subjects on a bigger screen rather than the flip screen of the camera, all while maintaining full control of their camera. So follow along and we will discuss low angle photography and I'll try and provide some tips on how to effectively use this technique with a camera on a monopod with a video monitor.


2. Understanding the benefits of low angle photography

in wildlife photography


Wide angle shot of elephant from low angle.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-70mm at 24mm. 1/400 sec @ f/2.8 ISO 180 © Randall Ball Photography

Low angle photography offers a unique perspective that can greatly enhance wildlife

photography. By capturing images from a lower vantage point, photographers are

able to showcase animals in their natural habitats in a more dynamic and dramatic

way. This technique allows viewers to see the world from the animal's point of view,

creating a deeper connection between the audience and the subject. In addition, low

angle photography brings attention to the small details and unique characteristics of

the wildlife, making the images truly captivating.


By using the camera and a video monitor combination on a monopod, photographers have the ability to view their subjects from a low angle and maintain a more comfortable shooting position that allows for more precise composition.


Randall Ball photographing lions with low angle camera rig.
Taking photography to a new low. Photo by ©Buren Foster Photography

3. Choosing the right equipment for low angle

Photography

 

Camera attached to inverted monopod with a video monitor.
The Low Angle Rig

When it comes to photography of wildlife using this method, choosing the right equipment is crucial. Firstly, opt for a sturdy and reliable monopod that can support the weight of your camera and lens.  Look for one that is adjustable in height, as this will allow you to achieve the desired low angle perspective.


Additionally, invest in a high-quality video monitor that will provide a clear and accurate view of your subject. Consider factors such as screen size, resolution, and brightness to ensure optimal visibility in various lighting conditions. Video monitors vary in price, it need not be the most expensive one out there, if fact there is a low cost choice in using your phone as a monitor, check out the Accsoon Seemo!  

Using a smartphone as a camera monitor
Accsoon Seems and iPhone 14 Pro as a camera monitor


Lastly, make sure your camera is compatible with the monopod and video monitor setup, for example, make sure you have a monopod that you can remove the foot and look for the 3/8” threading, such as the Benro Supadupa 72".  This will allow you to attach a monitor mount to mount your video monitor on one end and your camera to the other of the monopod. With the right equipment in hand, you'll be ready to capture stunning low angle shots of wildlife that will leave viewers in awe.






4. Setting up an inverted monopod for stable and

comfortable shooting

 

Setting up your low angle camera rig for stable and comfortable shooting is essential to

ensure the success of your wildlife photography. Here are some useful tips to make

the most out of your equipment:

 

a.  Positioning the monopod: Start by extending the monopod to your desired height,

keeping in mind the low angle perspective you want to achieve. Consider using a grip

handle for better stability like this Camvate grip.


Using a grip for stabilization on a monopod
Camvate grip helps stabilize the monopod and helps with arm fatigue


attaching the monopod to the camera handle with a quick release clamp and arch swiss plate.
Attaching the monopod to the camera with a quick release clamp

b.  Attaching the camera: Securely attach your camera to the monopod using a

compatible mount or tripod head. I like to use a quick release clamp such as this RRS QR Clamp and an Arca Swiss type plate mounted on a camera cage such as the Small Rig Handheld Kit.  Make sure the camera is balanced and tightened properly to prevent any accidental movement during your shoot.  You can either mount an Arca Swill plate to your rotating foot on your lens or use a handle attached to a

camera cage (preferred).







c.  Positioning the video monitor: Attach the video monitor to the foot of the monopod using a monitor mount screwed into the 3/8” thread (may require a 1/4 to 3/8 adapter) such as this Small Rig mount, positioning it comfortably at eye level. Adjust the monitor's angle and tilt as per your viewing preference.  You will need a long enough HDMI cable to reach from your camera to the monitor. (Tip: Always carry extras!)


attaching the monitor to the inverted monopod
Small Rig Swivel Mount attached to foot of monopod

 
















Accsoon Seems with iPhone 14
Being able to see camera settings and focus point...Game changer!

d.  Camera settings: Set your camera to Auto ISO, use a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the motion of wildlife, and a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field.



 











using the Hahnel Captur mounted on inverted monopod
Remote trigger for firing camera



e.  To fire the shutter, I suggest using a remote trigger such as this Hahnel Captur. (Make sure the remote trigger you choose allows continuous drive shooting or being able to fire more than one frame per button press). I attached mine to the monopod with a small clamp like this one and a small hot shoe for ease of use. You can engage your autofocus by halfway depressing the remote trigger button and then fully depressing to fire the shutter.

 







f.  If you are in a game vehicle, some have bars to help protect the body of the vehicle, these are great for resting the camera on for better stability…Your arms will get tired after awhile of holding it over the side!


Shooting low angle camera from a game vehicle in Kenya
On location in Kenya photographing lions. Photo by © Buren Foster Photography

By following these setup tips, you'll be able to achieve a stable shooting position and

comfortably view the subjects through your video monitor screen.


5. Using a video monitor for better composition and

focusing

 

One of the key advantages of using the field monitor for low angle wildlife photography is the ability to compose your shots more effectively. The bigger screen provides you with a larger and clearer view of the scene, allowing you to carefully frame your subjects and make composition adjustments as needed. When composing your shots, keep in mind the rule of thirds. Instead of simply centering your subject, try positioning it off-center to create a more dynamic composition. Pay attention to the background and foreground elements to add depth and interest to your images.

 

Using the monitor screen can also help you achieve better focus. By zooming in on your subject on the monitor, you can ensure that the eyes or other key details are sharp and in focus. Adjust the focus manually or take advantage of the camera's autofocus capabilities to achieve the desired results. While any field monitor should work, I absolutely love the Accsoon Seemo IOS/HDMI Smartphone Adapter. We all carry a smartphone with us already, so being able to use it as a video monitor is so cool! Plus the HD screen is SO sharp! You can see all your settings just like your viewfinder and you can even record and live stream! Follow the link for more information.



Lioness and cub photographed with low angle camera set up
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 70-200mm at 200mm. 1/1000 sec @ f/2.8 ISO 64 © Randall Ball Photography

 6. Tips and techniques for capturing stunning low angle

wildlife shots

 

Now that you have mastered the basics of low angle wildlife photography, it's time to dive into some advanced tips and techniques to take your shots to the next level. These techniques will help you capture unique perspectives and behaviors of wildlife, resulting in some pretty stunning and captivating images.

 

Consider experimenting with different angles by adjusting the height and position of your monopod mounted camera. By shooting from various angles, you can create

visual interest and add a sense of depth to your photographs. Try shooting from

ground level and shooting upwards at your subject.


Very low angle looking up at a male lion in the Masai Mara
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 70-200mm at 70mm. 1/400 sec @ f/2.8 ISO 180 © Randall Ball Photography


Another technique to try is capturing the wildlife in action. Wildlife behavior can be

truly mesmerizing, so why not take advantage of your low angle setup to freeze those

captivating moments at a different perspective? Patience is key when it comes to wildlife photography, so be prepared to wait a bit before pressing the shutter button. Set your camera to a continuous drive setting and fire away to catch all the moments and in particular, the decisive moment!


Pay special attention to lighting conditions and take advantage of natural light to enhance your images. The low angle will often create interesting shadows and highlights, adding texture and dimension to your photographs. Experiment with backlighting and sidelighting for dramatic effects.


Serval cat at eye level with the low angle camera set up
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 70-200mm at 200mm. 1/2000 sec @ f/2.8 ISO 720 © Randall Ball Photography

Lastly, don't forget to incorporate the environment and habitat in your shots.

Including the surrounding elements such as trees, rocks, or water can help tell a story and provide context to your wildlife images. By implementing these advanced techniques, you'll elevate your low angle wildlife photography to new heights.



Elephant at low angle to see environment and location
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 70-200mm at 200mm. 1/3200 sec @ f/2.8 ISO 64 © Randall Ball Photography

7. Safety precautions and ethical considerations in low

angle wildlife photography

 

Now that you have learned some advanced techniques for low angle wildlife

photography, it's important to discuss safety precautions and ethical considerations

when capturing these extraordinary moments.

 

When working in close proximity to wildlife, it is crucial to prioritize your safety and the

well-being of the animals. Always keep a safe distance and be aware of the animal's

behavior. Remember, you are a guest in their environment, and it's essential to

respect their space and not disturb their natural behavior.  ALWAYS follow your wildlife guides instructions if you are using a professional guide.

 

Additionally, do your research and familiarize yourself with local regulations and

guidelines concerning wildlife photography. Some areas may have specific rules in

place to protect the animals and their habitats.

 

Remember to never bait or lure animals to get a shot. This can disrupt their natural

feeding patterns and behavior. Instead, try to capture their natural interactions and

behavior without interfering or causing harm.

 

By following these safety precautions and ethical considerations, you can enjoy the art

of low angle wildlife photography while ensuring the well-being of the animals and

their habitat. Capture these breathtaking moments responsibly and create lasting

images that showcase the beauty and wonder of the wildlife world.


So grab your equipment, head out into nature, and get ready to take

your wildlife photography to new heights or um, lows in this case! Happy shooting!


-Randall Ball


Young male lion rests on top of a termite mound in the Masai Mara, Kenya
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 70-200mm at 200mm. 1/800 sec @ f/2.8 ISO 200 © Randall Ball Photography


All images all rights reserved, ©Randall Ball Photography 2024

2 Comments


Love this idea. What clamp are you using to attach the Camvate grip to the tripod? I hope to join one of your trips some day. Thank you for the article.

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It is a Smallrig Super Clamp

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