In today’s Slanted Lens video lighting tutorial, we are on location at the Bonneville Slat Flats in Utah and we will be exploring how camera height affects body shape. I always wanted to shoot at the Salt Flats but didn’t realize that in March it’s under water. Not to be deterred we headed out to the Salt Flats using them as a reflection pool. The water is only 6 to 8 inches deep which is perfect for our purpose. Height is a critical element when we shoot our talent. The angle will flatter our talent or cause them to look comical. We make the decision on the camera angle based on what we want to communicate. Low angles are great for full body and higher angles are better as we move into a head and shoulders. Our light today is very simple. We are using mostly natural light and will use one Dynalight strobe head with a Photoflex soft box to emphasize the highlight on our talent’s face from the hazy sun. Keep those cameras rolling and keep on clickn’.
Hi. This is Jay P. Morgan. In today’s Slanted Lens lesson, we’re out here at the Bonneville Salt Flats. What a gorgeous place to shoot. We’ve got the white salt that has water flooded on it right now, this time of year. We’ve got the white background of the sky here in the evening. We’ve got Mary Peterson with us. We’re going to shoot some great shots of white background with dark clothing. That’s a great contrast. It’ll look wonderful. We’re also going to show you what raising and lowering the camera does to shape the body. We’ll show that on a 24mm lens and a 50mm lens. So let’s go ahead and get started and see what we can do.
I have always wanted to shoot out at the Salt Flats, but didn’t realize that in March the Salt Flats are completely under water. It’s good that we drove out here and took a look at the location before we came out to shoot. Even though it was a six-hour round trip, we came out, scouted the location and we realized we were totally under water. Not to be deterred, we headed out to shoot at the flats using them as a reflection pool rather than a salt surface. The water’s only about six or eight inches deep, so it’ll be perfect for that purpose.
Shooting on the Salt Flats requires a permit, which we got from the BLM. It also requires rubber boots for all the crew so we can work in the water all day long. If you try to shoot here without a permit, it’s very possible you’ll get a ticket. I wouldn’t advise it.
Our lighting today is going to be very simple. We’re using mostly natural light. We’re going to use one Dynalight strobe head with a Photoflex Softbox. It’s going to be over the camera left side to emphasize the highlight on her face we’re getting from the heated sun.
Here’s our first shot with just the sun. We don’t need a lot of light to add to this, but just a little bit of highlight, a little rim on the camera left side, I think, will help us a lot. Our strobe’s going to highlight from camera left. So here’s our shot with that strobe light and our natural sun.
I’m running around in the water using a new piece of equipment today called the Spider Holster. I was not sure how it would perform in this situation, but it was perfect. The camera was right at my side. It wasn’t flapping around when I was working. I found it a great solution for moving and shooting in a demanding situation.
Before we start shooting our main image, let’s take a look at how the camera height shapes the body. We’ll shoot with a 50mm lens to start with, and then we’re going to move to a 24mm and experiment with different camera heights. Here’s a low-angle shot where the camera is on the deck and looking up at her. Literally, my hand is in the water keeping the camera just above the level of the water. This gives her a very statuesque look. This is a great view for full body shots. The shot has great presence.
We’re now at waist level, and her body is more evenly proportioned. It’s almost too normal. I should have done a shot between her waist and the deck. That’s kind of my favorite place to shoot. It really gives her that nice, statuesque look but is not up to the waist where things start to look very normal and kind of uninteresting. We’re now going to move to eye level. We are emphasizing her upper body now more and shortening her legs. When you come to this point, you’re in a better place to shoot head and shoulders rather than full body shots. We are now looking down on her, and it shortens her body a lot. Her legs are shorter and we’re making her head seem a bit larger. We’re now looking at a steep angle down at her. It’s a very high angle. This far shortens her a lot. It’s kind of a comical look.
We’re now going to go to a 24mm lens. We’re going to take a look at how pronounced this change is, going from the deck all the way to overhead. Here’s a shot from the deck. My hand really is in the water, so the camera is very low, looking up at a steep angle. Her legs are a bit larger, her head’s a bit smaller. We’re getting a little more of a forced perspective.
This is a big jump. We’ve jumped from that low angle to that waist-high shot. Again, it’s very normal looking. Things are a little more normal as we keep the camera almost at her waist. This does not lengthen her legs, does not change her head size, it just keeps everything very normal, but a little bit boring.
We’re at her eye level now, and this is a really good look for her upper body. If I push in and shoot her waist up from this angle, there’s really no double-chin. Not that she has a double chin, but it’s just a great position to shoot. As we get just above the eyes, we can start to push in on her a little closer. Now we’re above her head. Because of this wide-angle lens, her body is very distorted. Her head is large and her feet are very small. This is an interesting look. It needs to have an application for it to work, though.
I’ll be shooting most of the shots today at that low angle – not on the deck, but between the deck and the waist height. It shows off the environment. It gives us a nice, statuesque look at her. It’s really at this point that we’re ready to get her in the water. Off with the rubber boots. Mary is such a trooper. Here’s a montage of the different images. I really love this high-key background with her dark outfit in the foreground. I really was pleased with how these turned out.
We make the decision on camera angle based on what we want to communicate. If it’s about clothing, we’ll choose a camera angle that flatters the clothing we’re trying to sell. Low angles are great for full body, and high angles are better for moving in with head and shoulders. We’ll talk more about this in the future, so keep those cameras rolling and keep on clicking.
Well, I hope you enjoyed our piece today on how camera height shapes the body. I’d like to give a little shout-out to our new sponsor, which is Spider Holster. I had no idea how I was going to love this piece of equipment. I put this on when I went out to work at the Bonneville Salt Flats. I was on set. I had put it and locked it so the camera wouldn’t fall out. I started working on set, doing things and after a few minutes I wondered where my camera was. In fact, I was looking around, I was looking at my tripod; it wasn’t on my tripod. I asked one of the assistants who was there, “Where’s the camera?” He goes, “It’s on your hip.” It’s so secure. It was just there. It made it so easy for me to work. It’s got a little switch on the side to be able to break it loose. I can lock it in place; it can’t come out. Or I can bring it up or I can lock it so it will let me allow it to bring it in and out very quickly. I want to just give a little shout-out to Spider Holster and look forward to working with them in the future.
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