Get on your knees! Or … not.

How much time do you spend on your knees?

For me the answer is none! I get sharp stabbing pains when I kneel and 20 years ago I swore I would never kneel again. (I think there was some other swearing at the time as well.) But that’s no excuse. As a photographer, we all need to find a way to get down low.

Whether that means sitting, lying on your stomach, or using a right angle view finder, you gotta find a way. There’s a whole world of unique perspectives to be found down there.

During my week “off the grid” I visited a few of the smaller islands off of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and made some images at the beach. The first image below was taken at my tripod’s tallest position, which is just lower than eye level. I pointed the camera upwards a bit to place the horizon in the lower third of the frame. I really like how the sky turned out in this image, but all in all I feel it lacks a clear subject and has little impact.

Rebecca Spit, Quadra Island, British Columbia
Please click the images to view larger versions.

As nice as the sky was, I decided that the unique features in the scene were the rocks and the shape of the shoreline at low tide. I collapsed the legs of my tripod so it was as short as possible to get closer to the rocks and angled my camera down placing the horizon in the top third of the frame. Pointing the camera down when you use a wide angle lens has a dramatic effect and even distorts the edges of the images a bit, but I’m ok with that.

Rebecca Spit, Quadra Island, British Columbia

To my eye this composition is more dramatic than the first image.

Both images were made from the exact same spot on shore using the same lens, focal length and aperture (10mm, f/11). The only difference is the position and angle of the camera.

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27 Responses to “Get on your knees! Or … not.”

  1. Gorgeous sky, or fascinating rocky foreground? It’s a tough call. :) I would have to say the second photo wins out – the composition makes me follow the rocks into the distance and explore the rest of the photo. Cheers.

  2. Alex dijt says:

    I just had a bursitis in the knee.
    So… it is not for me for a while.
    Ever tried lying on the ground?
    Your less mobile but also graet persectives!

    • Hi Alex, oh yes, I lay on the ground all the time! I’m always getting my pants covered in sand, dirt or even snow. I tend to lay on my side too so I get strange looks from people who don’t see my camera and wonder what I am doing. Just another person sleeping in the park :) Thanks for your comments.

  3. I, too, have trouble getting down. However, the real issue is trying to get back up!!!. I found a right angle viewer that slips over my D200 eyepiece. I originally purchased it to use with my Celestron telescope since it has a 1.5x magnifier to aide my focusing. But, it also works well when the camera is at ground level.
    I like the second image since it grabs your attention immediately with the well focused stones…then leads your eye to the clouds.
    Dennis Warren recently posted..Sometimes Daily PostsMy Profile

    • Hi Dennis, I have never actually tried one of those right angle viewers but I have been thinking of getting one to help out with those low angle shots. I use my LCD a lot for those occassions as well. Thanks for your compliment on the image, much appreciated.

  4. Kaz says:

    enchanted..

  5. Berta says:

    I too like the second picture much better, it is more dramatic as you say for my taste.
    Most of my pictures are of my little kids, so I do spend lost and lost of time on my knees! But it is always fun…

  6. I was in car accident a year ago and it screwed up my good knee. (My not so good knee took its beating after 20+ years of dance.) To solve the problem, I found a Coleman fold-up chair that’s really light and use that. It gets me really low, but not on my knees, and helps with getting up and down. I found it at my local recycling center (aka dump), but I think you can still buy them. I also lie down on the wet/dry ground when I have to, but it’s not my first choice! (grin)
    So, keep your eyes open for a plastic and aluminum Coleman camping chair.

    • Hi Ilene, that’s a really good idea. I tried a little chair once but then the leaning forward got to me. If only my body would cooperate! So I end up laying on the ground most of the time. Maybe I just need to get a piece of plastic to lay on so I’m not always getting up wet and sandy, now there’s an idea!

  7. Paul Golding says:

    I agree that the composition on the second image is probably better however I found that I spent more time exploring the first version, even going back to it later, as I found much more interest in the clouds than in the rocks. Of course this may be because I often lay down on the floor and just watch the clouds go by!
    Choosing between two such amazing images is a problem most photographers would be happy to have. Great shots.

    • Thank you very much for your feedback Paul. It’s a tough choice but I’m pretty happy with both of them actually. It’s much better to have that kind of choice than the days we go home empty handed. Now on the next empty handed day I’ll just have to remember I got two this time :)

  8. Michael Davis says:

    Really nice photos! Love the composition and depth.
    Michael Davis recently posted..RedXMy Profile

  9. LensScaper says:

    Second shot wins it for me. But the question I have is: did you try a portrait mode shot. Would you not have got big sky plus strong foreground? Or perhaps you weren’t keen on a 50:50 image of sky/foreground. Would be interested to know, Anne.
    LensScaper recently posted..Walks on less frequented hills and pathsMy Profile

    • Hey Andy, I went back through my originals and I’m a little surprised to say that I don’t have a portrait version! Maybe I just looked through the viewfinder and didn’t like it, but it is odd that I don’t have one. I think you are right that would have been a good one to try and it may have elongated the shape of the rocks. Well drat now I have to go back!! :)

  10. Chris Plante says:

    One year I bicycled “The Loop” which included a night or two at Rebecca’s Spit. It truly is a wonderful place. My hilight was watching a local who lived on water front feed an eagle some left over fish guts from a day of fishing. Certainly wished I had the fast telephoto!

    Great shots Anne. Keep up the informative blog posts.

    • Hi Chris, That sounds like great fun! I hope you got a chance to stay at the campground on the other side as well, Cape Mudge. They have waterfront campsites too but it is on the side with the super strong current so you cannot swim there but there is lots of boat traffic to watch. Quadra Island is a beautiful place to visit. Thanks for your comments!

  11. Mark says:

    I really like the lower angle Anne. Much more powerful. While the low angle really brings this home, having the mountain range and awesome sky are nice perks. :-)
    Mark recently posted..60 Second ExposureMy Profile

  12. Erskine Isaac says:

    I think both photos are excellent. The second wins out to me because it captures the essence of the sky and anchors it to the beauty of stones which are equally beautiful. Great job and thank you for sharing.

  13. Joe Hudspeth says:

    Great shots Anne and I can immediately identify with the getting up and down problem. I like everyone else, like the second image and the way the spit leads you through the scene. Only thing I noticed was that when I followed the spit, it didn’t end up as I thought, so I looked and examined and thought that the clouds could be a tad more dramatic in the left side of the shot. Just my take on it. They are both beautiful!
    Joe Hudspeth recently posted..Elk..Wapati..ElusiveMy Profile

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