Photography Blog

Photography Friday: Low, Close and Wide

This week's installment of Photography Friday is brought to you by renowned nature photographer Rob Sheppard, instructor of the brand new Craftsy class, Shooting Intimate Landscapes. Here's just a taste of the material he'll cover in the class!

Indian Paintbrush Against Natural Background

Photo via Shooting Intimate Landscapes

To get better photographs that will gain attention from your viewers, no matter who or where they are, get low, close and wide to your intimate landscape.

Intimate landscapes are small-scale landscapes that we can find almost anywhere. They can be as small scale as a bunch of mosses against a rock or as big as a boulder and the trees around it. These allow you to use all of your skills as a photography almost anywhere.

Getting low, close and wide is a great way to photograph flowers -- you getting close to your flower, which also shows the setting and its surroundings, in order to give a feeling of its environment.

Intimate landscapes really do give you a feeling of the environment around your subject because you are not limiting your photograph to just the subject.

A challenge that many photographers face for this type of photograph is that they will set their camera up at a certain distance from the scene and then simply zoom in and out until they get the shot. Now, that can be a perfectly fine way of getting an interesting photograph. However, doing that can make you miss a great opportunity to create a very unique image.

Okay, so instead of simply standing in one place and zooming your lens in and out, try this:

1. Zoom your lens out to its widest focal length.

2. Now, without touching that zoom, move in until you get an interesting shot.

3. Even more, get your camera down low, down to the level of your subject. This is very easy to do if you have a tilting LCD on your camera -– use your Live View.

With digital, it is also easy to simply put your camera down low, take the picture even if you can't see through the viewfinder, then check your LCD to check your shot.

4. Move in until there is an interesting relationship of subject to its surroundings.

So what's the big deal here? What is happening is you are actually changing perspective and creating a very unique perspective on your small landscape.

As you get close, the wide-angle lens makes your background get smaller even though your subject might stay the same size. This gets to be really interesting when you are down low and close-up with that wide-angle lens.

It can even be a lot of fun to set your wide-angle lens to its closest focusing distance on manual focus, then move in until your subject is sharp. In other words, don't simply stand back from your subject and focus. Let your camera’s close focusing distance dictate how close you should get with your wide-angle lens.

So next time you are out in any natural area, even if it's a small bit of nature in your backyard or in a nearby park, try using your wide-angle lens a little differently than you might be used to by simply zooming your lens in and out from a single position. Get close and down low and see what you can find.

The two images here were found alongside a road in Southeastern Tennessee. Both were shot with wide-angle lenses up close and personal to the subject, which allowed more of the background and setting to appear, though also reduced in relative size.

Learn more and get direct feedback from Rob in our virtual classroom when you sign up for the class Shooting Intimate Landscapes.

About Rob Sheppard

Rob Shepherd with Camera, Taking Photo Rob Sheppard is a naturalist, nature photographer and videographer who says his favorite location is the one where he is now. He is the author of more than 40 books on photography and a well-known speaker and workshop leader. A fellow with the North American Nature Photography Association, he is also editor-at-large of Outdoor Photographer magazine. Check out Rob Sheppard's Craftsy class, Shooting Intimate Landscapes, and visit his website,, to learn more!

What are your favorite intimate landscapes to photograph?

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