Relationship of angles

When subject is not looking into the camera, the front angle might still convey that no-nonsense feeling that “I’m right here before you, looking at you.” The photographer and viewer of the photo are making their presence known. The further you are from the subject, the more these sensations might be enhanced. An extreme one might look overly manufactured, absurd, or just plain silly. Here, right in front of us, is the subject, but we see it within an expansive scene that provides us the background context of where this subject fits in, where it might have come from, where it is going, and why it might be here. So, for example, if a subject is facing left, but the camera frame is tilted up on the right, the subject might seem to be descending to the left even though the tilt creates a pull upward to the right. In the study of human and animal behavior, especially in primates and canines, psychologists talk about the “full face threat.” The straight-on approach to the subject - body facing body, eyeball to eyeball - might feel challenging or confrontational. Alpha m relationship. In this shot of a adolescent girl, the front camera angle joins forces with her cocky head, folded arms, and leaning body to warn us about her cocky attitude. If the subject is not looking at the camera, as in the shot on the right, the psychological impression changes quite dramatically. The front angle can be used to create that effect in a photo, mostly if the subject appears uncertain, submissive, or anxious. This type of angle will also cause the nose, lower face, chin, and especially the body, to appear smaller, which might be the desired effect for some subjects – for example, if you want to slim down the person’s body or make a tall person appear shorter. Relationship of angles. If you tilt a camera to one side or another while taking a shot, the resulting photo portrays a scene that appears unnaturally slanted up or down. High camera angles can make the subject appear to be in an inferior position relative to your dominant and more powerful point of view. When you take the shot from a slightly lower angle, below the waist level, the person will appear taller, which comes in handy for short movie actors who want to enhance their stature and politicians who desire the appearance of power. The minimalist background might take the subject out of context or accentuate the importance, distinctiveness, and power of the subject. Even if it’s not, the front angle is more likely than any other camera angle to give the impression that a non-sentient subject IS aware of you.

Relationship of side lengths and angles of a triangle.

. Relationship of angles. In a wide angle view, we see a bigger picture of the scene before us. Although this objective camera angle can create the impression that we are far away, distant observers, it can also create feelings of awe as we witness the scope and grandeur of the scene before us. In movies it is often used as an opening shot to convey the idea that this is the big picture of where the story is about to unfold. After all, we see them, but they do not see us. Those sensations can be over-ridden or counterbalanced by the orientation of the subject. Here I emphasize “might” because a contrived, ridiculous, inane, or some other extreme feeling might be the purpose of the shot, whether viewers like it or not. A wide angle lens amplifies the quirky and sometimes humorous effect. As a more objective rather than immersive point of view, you become the unseen observer, uninvolved, distant. It might even seem like an honest, non-deceptive point of view. Because the tilted angle creates diagonal lines, the composition creates a dynamic feeling of energy and movement. The subject will appear dramatically and maybe even unnaturally tall. The camera angle is a special type of long shot borrowed from the experience of stage plays. Low camera angles of a person or object above us tends to isolate the subject from the surroundings. Be aware, however, of the possible negative effect of looking up someone’s nose. Also consider the degree of tilt. Vice versa, if the subject in the photo appears assertive, confrontational, or aggressive, you the viewer might feel the anxiety of the full face threat. In terms of the science of body language, the subject presents a mixed message: I’m both looking at you and turned away from you. In wedding photography, for example, it might be a shot of the entire dining area where the party is taking place. You are literally and figuratively “looking down on them.” High camera angles work well to enhance the idea that the subject is submissive, humiliated, vulnerable, powerless, fallen, being beaten down, or injured. There might be many other subtle meanings to that intriguing contradiction. For a magnified effect, which would be emphasized even more by a wide angle lens, shoot from a level even lower to the ground. The sky or a ceiling forms the backdrop, against which the subject stands. In the shots on the right, the titled angle adds to the quirky humor of the duck searching for something near a row of portable potties, while a very similar tilt creates a more eerie, unsettling feeling in the photo of the truck. If the subject is a tall or short person, that aspect of their appearance is eliminated as we see eye-to-eye with them.. So, for example, if the image is slanted heavily and the subject appears disheveled, then both we and the subject experience that state of disarray. In some cases the low angle might be disorienting, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on the intent of the shot. It shows people the way we would expect to see them in real life. This point-of-view camera angle often appears in event photography, such as weddings. Photographers also use tilted angles as a way to control how negative space interacts with the subject. Although there are many psychological variations of the two shot – just as there are a limitless variety of ways two people relate to each other – one important factor to consider is on which of the two subjects the viewer will tend to focus. We feel a bit further away from the setting, on the sidelines, not as intimately involved, like an unseen observer or part of an audience. The resulting photo might feel a bit voyeuristic, or like we have some advantage, power, or control over the subject. We feel equal status and power with them, like a peer. Generally speaking, when you shoot from the front of a subject, you’re assuming a straight-on, matter-of-fact, no-nonsense approach. You are, literally, “looking up” to the subject, perhaps out of respect. The subject is smaller, less significant, and diminished, while you are the giant. Once again, however, the slightly uneasy and off-balance sensation of a faintly slanted shot could very well serve the composition and intended impact of the image, as in the quirky and uneasy feeling in the shot of the goose by the portable toilets. For example, it might be a shot of an entire room, where subjects are visible in different areas of the room – on the left and right, in the foreground and background, on a staircase, up on a balcony - each perhaps engaged in different activities. The subject, even though looking away, might seem aware of our presence, or, at the very least, can easily become aware of our standing right there in front of them. Everything looks small, flattened, and squat, even things that your conscious mind knows are massive, like mountains, trees and buildings. In the extreme long shot, we see a scene as a very wide vista, like a vast plain with mountain ranges in the distance, or a city skyline from far away. For this reason it’s a highly subjective type of camera angle that encourages us to experience these sensations along with the subjects in the photo, especially if the subjects present other visual cues that confirm these states of mind. In fact, with the photo on the right, this was exactly the case. The person’s hair will also be emphasized, and in some cases, as in bald men, the subject might seem more “brainy” because the top of the head will appear larger. People seem insignificant, as if they are ants. It’s the capture of human interaction. You see what they’re doing, but you’re not part of the group activity, as in the shot of the people in a restaurant, taken from the street outside. Whatever it is you’re photographing – be it human on not - low shots, as a type of subjective camera angle, create the feeling that the subject is big, high, powerful, dominant, imposing, authoritative, or menacing. In the shot of the young women on the monkey bars, there is a sense of empowerment, freedom, and flight. Variations of the close-up include the head-and-shoulders shot, the head only shot, and the “choker” that zooms in to an area starting below the lips extending up just above the eyes. You’re aware of the subject and the subject is aware of you – assuming, of course, the subject is a sentient being. It’s often used in action-adventure movies, and when used in photography can similarly create that feeling of action and adventure. The close-up works well in revealing the personality of subjects, or the essence of some aspect of who they are as a person. Slanting the viewfinder different degrees to one side or the other will alter how the edges of the frame shape the negative space and the way it flows around the organic form of the trees or the geometric lines of the buildings. The identity of the subject itself is no longer the objective of the photograph, but rather the intricate colors, patterns, tones, and textures that comprise the subject. In photography the two shot captures the smallest and usually most intimate type of group: two people with each other. In the cinematography we see a smaller, more specific scene where some action has or will take place – as in a shot of a street, house, or room. As a type of subjective camera angle, it can be quite immersive and dramatic. However, even though the photo gives the impression that you’re standing right there, you tend to feel like an unnoticed player in the situation, because the subject is not making eye contact with you. The photographer, as well as the person viewing the photo, now feels more like the objective, unnoticed, and even invisible observer of the subject. When you tilt the camera frame down on right, everything seems to be falling to that side.

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. In cinematography of human subjects, it’s called the “reaction shot” because the close-up helps the viewer intimately experience the emotions and state of mind of the person in reaction to the situation at hand. Imagine, for example, a close-up shot of water gushing from a faucet, or a piston pumping in an engine. With people, it’s the natural way to view the person. We might attribute psychological meaning to the fact that the subject is not making eye contact – for example, being timid, self-conscious, distracted, uninterested, or absorbed in something more captivating than our presence. If you’re afraid of heights, it might even feel unnatural, disorienting, and anxiety-provoking. As I mentioned earlier, we usually experience the world as lines and shapes organized in relationship to the ground or a surface that is horizontally level. Standing up, the young man is actually above them, but the fact that he's further away from me in my low camera angle position makes him appear smaller than the young women, which emphasizes their power. In some cases, an extreme long shot photo might trigger what psychologists call the “oceanic experience” – the sensation that we are joyfully, even spiritually losing our small selves in the magnificent size and complexity of the vista before us. Cinematographers usually categorize these wide view angles into three types. Portrait photographers often recommend taking a slightly high camera angle during head shots, usually just above the subject’s eye level. By contrast, the viewer of low camera angle photos might feel weak, powerless, insecure, helpless, or overwhelmed in relation to the subject. You see large, expansive areas compacted into a small field of view. The eyes will seem larger and more emphasized because they are closer to the camera and appear above the center of the resulting photo. The two shot is also sometimes called the “American shot” because it was often used in early American movie making, where romance almost always dominated the story. Being up close tends to create the impression that you’re with the person, that your presence might or could easily be sensed. The close-up works so well in bringing a subject to life that it can animate even inanimate objects by allowing us to closely experience it’s features and sensations. Once familiar scenes might at first be unrecognizable from this strange and unnatural point of view, as in this shot of fields, plateaus, and clouds from a jet flight. For example, imagine looking down along the long barrel of a rifle that a tall subject is pointing downward at you. Exceptional relationship meaning.

Ordinary aspects of the environment not noticed or appreciated from a standing position, especially the underside of things, now take on intensified importance. Even subjects that are clearly stationery appear to be rising or falling, or somehow resisting the pull of gravity. The level angle is one type of subjective camera angle because the shot encourages the viewer to identify with the subject. The effect might even register on a subconscious level. When we kneel down to shoot subjects who are sitting, the resulting photo appears as if we’re sitting too, rather than standing above them. But if the subject looks perfectly calm, then we, the viewer, feel confused while looking out onto a seemingly tranquil scene and subject. You feel like the objective, unseen, and maybe even invisible observer not directly involved in the action at that moment. Flowers and chairs look huge. In cinematography and photography as well, a shot of a group of people would be considered a medium view. Shoot it from the side and you’re unlikely to perceive it as sensing your presence via peripheral awareness, as you might with a human subject. If the subject is looking directly at you, or at someone or something far to the left or right, the resulting image will most likely produce the same psychological effect as a front camera angle. The “bird’s-eye-view” shows a scene from directly overhead at a very high position, as from a high building or airplane. When I took this shot, I too was siting with my friend Bill while enjoying a cigar. This angle can truly create that transcendent, god-like point of view. Give some serious thought to how the slanted effect serves the composition and intended effect of the image. Psychologically, we’re seeing eye-to-eye with the person. Those contradictory lines of movement might create an interesting kind of balance or tension. If you use a tilted angle just for the sake of doing it, the resulting photo could very well look contrived. The rear angle tends to be a discrete, secretive approach to the subject. When you shoot a car straight on, it’s hard to resist the idea that its headlights are looking right back at you. Even though the man is motionless in the street scene shot on the right, the high plus diagonal angle nevertheless creates a sensation of movement and energy. For a medium camera angle, you’re moving closer towards the scene than in the long or wide view, while still remaining in a somewhat distant or objective viewpoint, as if observing the action or scene but still not quite a part of it. In a garden or room, a very low camera angle will help the viewer appreciate the scene from the perspective of a cat, dog, or insect. Subtle tilts are similarly problematic or intriguing. For example, imagine a shot upwards into a group of trees or buildings. The angle-plus-angle shot combines the energy of the diagonal line, the emotional qualities of being above or below the subject, along with the sensation of depth and dimension. I’m intrigued, or sometimes find myself scratching my head, when I see a wedding shot of the bride and groom walking arm in arm down the isle, in a photo that was obviously tilted. The high camera angle enhances that feeling of her having dropped down into her withdrawn world of napping. Extreme close-ups enter the territory of macro-photography, where we might feel that we are merging with, losing ourselves in, or becoming engulfed by the subject, sometimes in a spiritual or mystical manner, as in the close up shot of the plant. You are in the position of the child, or standing in the land of the giants. Or it might be a photo of people on the dance floor, but taken from a distance where we feel that we are observers of the dancing rather than part of it. We might become so deeply immersed into it that we even lose sight of what the subject is, as in some forms of abstract photography. Again, it tends to be an objective camera angle because it usually conveys the idea that we have not yet fully entered this space. If the subject is a child or animal, we get down to capture them at their level of experience rather than shoot from the higher adult or human point of view. Generally speaking, if you want to deemphasize something in your shot, raise the camera so that everything underneath the center of the frame will appear smaller. When done well, it reflects the photographer’s skill at juggling the subjective/objective dynamic. That can be a convenient camera angle for eliminating an otherwise distracting or irrelevant environment. When most people see a slightly tilted image, they will think “that’s crooked.” Photographers might even scoff at what appears to be an obvious mistake in holding the camera level. You’re identifying and even feeling one with the subject, whether it’s a person, plant, animal, or any kind of object

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