How New Vantage Points Improve Travel Photography
Experimenting with new vantage points will add great variety to any professional photography portfolio or personal photo gallery.
Simply said: anything else besides standing upright and shooting at eye level and horizontally will add some visual excitement to photos because that is the way we normally see the world everyday.
Especially during travel photography, where we are out of our usual element, we look down all the time. But taking pictures of what is under our feet doesn’t occur to every travel photographer.
Looking down on colorful paper flowers on the ground in Hanoi, Vietnam
These beautiful paper flowers were set aside after an elementary school dance, in a park near the Hoan Kiem Lake, Ha Noi. Fortunately the tiles were dark colored so there could be excellent color contrast, that made the flowers really stand out.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can see that the many circular shapes and the placing of the flowers are in accordance with The Golden Ratio.
Looking down on Flower Hmong goat head soup in Bac Ha, Vietnam
I did skip the delicious looking goat head soup at a popular Sunday Flower Hmong market. But I did like the juxtaposition of items I saw looking down.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can see that this is not a successful composition if we judge it by The Golden Ratio. In hindsight I could have moved the goat head to the right, to a 2 o’clock position but I already felt as an intruder at the market. And I just couldn’t make it work any better based on how I found this still life composition.
Looking down on a bound live pig for sale at a Flower Hmong Sunday market
This is a great way to transport and display otherwise very vocal and energetic livestock. The frequent squealing sounds heard throughout this Hmong Sunday market proved that this is a superior product packaging way!
Fibonacci spiral over bound live pig for sale at a Flower Hmong Sunday market picture
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can see that the main subject – the pig – is pretty nicely positioned according to The Golden Ratio. The legs of the Hmong man create parallel lines that direct the viewer’s eyes towards the subject.
Looking down on Vietnamese construction workers with yellow cable
A 12mm Tokina DX lens (18mm full frame equivalent) allowed me to take this photo of Vietnamese construction workers laying down yellow cable in the town of Haiphong. With my arms above my head, using this wide angle lens, there was enough distance between lens and subject to include enough details so the image doesn’t look cropped or squashed.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can see that I missed the mark with this composition according to The Golden Ratio. With the camera above my head, I was composing blindly. The photo would have had a better flow if the face of the man inside the circle of cables would have been at the end of the Fibonacci spiral.
Looking down on fake one hundred dollar bill on the ground
Fake one hundred dollar bill on the ground (used for street advertising as a flyer), was photographed in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can judge if the image composition is according to The Golden Ratio. It is not an exact science so the face of Benjamin Franklin – it being the only face in this picture makes it the main object – is sufficiently placed.
Looking down on 500 Vietnamese dong bill on the ground
A torn 500 Vietnamese dong bill photographed on red tiled ground in Hanoi. It was a lucky coincidence that the color of the bill and the ground matched. The money was not moved, I photographed it as I found it.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can see that it would have been better to place the number 500 into the eye of the spiral. Flipping the spiral upside down would not really matter, the number 500 is just too close the the middle of the frame.
Although the lines work here really nicely adding visual excitement, the composition of this picture somewhat missed the mark.
Looking down on Vietnamese man showing off catch of the day: small fishes and snails
After I observed and photographed this man’s family searching through the mud of a pond, he was ready to show off his catch of the day. The from above vantage point eliminated any chance of a busy and distracting background. The plastic bowl hold herbs – as I understood considering the ever present language barrier, when traveling off the beaten track in Vietnam.
Overlaying the Fibonacci spiral, we can see that the curve started by the man’s back continues along his extended arm, creating a line, that points towards the plastic bowl, filled with herbs. The arrangement of these elements creates a composition that contains The Golden Ratio.
Looking down on Flower Hmong doorway with bowl and pair of rubber boots
Doorways can be very interesting street or still life photography subjects! Items found outside doors can give clues who might live inside and how they live. Photographing doorways is slightly intrusive without really being rude.
This photo was taken outside the ton of Bac Ha, in Northern Vietnam, in Flower Hmong hill tribe country.
Overlaying the Rule Of Thirds grid, we can see that both bottom grid cross hairs are over key elements of the composition. Both the bowl and the dirtier, muddier rubber booth are the subjects the eyes will concentrate on.