Change Your Perspective to Capture Unique Photos

  • Zion National Park, UT

    Light Falls @ Zion National Park, UT

  • Zion National Park, UT

    Zion National Park, UT

These two shots offer an example of what can be accomplished with a simple change in perspective. The first shot above (Light Falls) was taken in Zion National Park in 2005. The image highlights the beauty of the waterfall and provides a portrait of the park as well, showcasing the beautiful sandstone walls and lovely autumn foliage.

Take a look at the second image. It’s not unusual to find a scene like this in nature. As pretty as the location is, the shot doesn’t do it justice. When I arrived at the first of the Emerald Pools, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. The fall colors were at their peak and the colors of the canyon walls were enriched by recent showers. The falls were flowing beautifully as well… so I grabbed my camera and took a wide-angle shot.

Although the scene is beautiful, the waterfall is nearly lost in the image and there is no clear point of focus. I intended for the waterfall to be the main point of interest; but it ended up lost as a small sliver of silver surrounded by busy foliage and sandstone. So, how do you fix a shot like this?

Rather than give up and return with a less-than-spectacular shot, I decided to change my perspective. Walking around to the opposite side of the falls, I noticed that the falling water was backlit with soft residual light from the overcast sky. This made it stand out against the darker, water-soaked walls of the canyon. In order to focus the attention of the viewer on the waterfall, I used a longer focal length (50mm lens on 1.6 crop factor camera). This allows the waterfall to fill up the frame. I also decided to include the tree and striped walls of the canyon to provide a sense of time and place.

Here are few tips to help you capture images with a different perspective:

  • Create a dreamy effect using shallow DOF: Here is a photo from Oregon which was shot with a wide-angle lens and a shallow DOF to create the desired effect.
    Tom McCall Nature Preserve, Oregon (OR), USA
  • Photograph the object from the air: These day you can rent a drone or charter a helicopter to take photos. Here is a recent shot from Fiji that was taken from a helicopter. As you can see, we had a stunning birds-eye view of Varina photographing on a small sand bar take from a helicopter.

    Varina on Sandbar, Fiji

    Varina on Sandbar, Fiji

  • Take photos of objects under water: You don’t need expensive gear to make this happen. Just grab your camera and wander around the tide pools on a beach to find interesting things to capture. I captured this sea anemone in Australia just few hundred feet from the parking lot.
    Birubi Beach, Anna Bay, NSW, Australia
  • Get down low to the ground: I took this shot of a crab while lying on the ground. This helped me eliminate distractions and allowed the crabs to come out of their hiding place.

    Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

    Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

So… the next time you are stumped for an interesting composition, think about changing your perspective and you just may come up with something interesting.

About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.
Patience is a virtue...unless you are chasing your dreams

  • Thibaut

    Thank you Jay for these tips. I truly believe that drones offers new infinite opportunities to create new and original composition, with a fresh viewpoint. I do mostly cityscapes and it would be great to capture high buildings from the air.
    I checked the laws in France and unless you’re a professional with a special training, it’s very hard to use a drone.
    I guess a high tripod would be a start for me 🙂

  • matidio

    Don’t forget the many times where you DON’T find a better perspective and the perfect shot. The often troublesome ways in trying to find thise spot, the many mornings you get up at inhuman hours … I wonder where one always find the motivation in doing all this 😀

    • 🙂 That’s true, Matidio. There are times when you just can’t find the perfect shot. Still – part of the pleasure is in the search. So, I can’t complain!

  • Brad Tremblay

    HA HA…I’m going to show this post to my wife so she knows I’m not the only one that spends a long time in one area. Great shots take time. We’re not taking pictures, we’re making pictures!

    • 🙂 You certainly aren’t the only one! All of us crazy landscape photographers spend hours in one location… just searching for that perfect shot… in the perfect light… under the perfect sky. And when we finally get that perfect shot, we just want to take ONE more. Or maybe five. Or thirty. 😉

  • Kevin Morgan

    Jay, this is a really good example and clear explanation of the impact of both changing your perspective and the composition of the shot. It’s also an example of why it’s so hard to visit such spots with non-photographers as this takes quite a bit of time and patience and they have a hard time understanding why you can’t just quickly grab your shot and move along.
    Love your work and that of the rest of the Time Catchers’ photographers.

    • Kevin,
      Yes…it is always hard for the non photographers to realize we spend so much time on one particular spot. It is also hard for photographer who are starting out to be able to realize the value of changing perspective. One of the best things we enjoy about teaching workshop is to be able to see others perspective of the same location under the same skies.
      Thanks for the comments about our work.

      Thanks for the comments.


  • Not a very useful comment, I know, but I just wanted to say that I find “Light Falls” really stunning!

    – Jack