Viewpoint and Perspective

A moody, birdseye view looking down a narrow stairwell at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.

Viewpoint, sometimes referred to as angle of view, is a critical consideration for the photographer working towards a great composition.

The Location

This photo was made at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. The steep climb up the spiral staircase leads to the roof where you soak up fantastic 360 degree views of Paris.

While staircases are interesting, the curved shape of a spiral staircases is quite unique. When viewed from above they remind me of a nautilus shell, symmetrically perfect. And it was from a high viewpoint that I made the above photo.

Birdseye Viewpoint

In fact such an extreme angle of view is referred to as a Birdseye Viewpoint. It provides a way of seeing the world that's so different from the way we normally perceive it. I'm reminded of the story I heard once about the first hot air ballon flights over Paris. It provided a perspective of Paris never before seen.

I made the above photo with a Canon 5D Mark II camera and a Canon 24-105 mm f4 IS lens @ 24 mm. That's the wide angle end of that particular lens and, because wide-angle focal lengths alter perspective, it enabled me to move in close and emphasize the stairwell.

Photography is a Physical Endeavor

I strongly recommend that you consistently explore viewpoints that produce more variety in your own photography. It's easy, fun and often the single element that elevates the image from ordinary to something quite special. Give it a go and, remember, that photography is a physical endeavor.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru