Updated: Apr 11, 2021
Couple of inputs that I follow to get as low as possible while shooting birds.
If you are a bird photographer you probably know the fact that low angle (or) an eye level with the subject will provide a shallow depth of field thus providing a nice out of focus background. For those who don't, the following figure may provide a quick idea of why so an eye level position of the camera is better than shooting from a top angle. The essential reason is to have a higher degree of separation between the subject and the background to get that bokeh.
So what are the accessories or gears that can help make this process easier and effective.
Easy to photograph
When I say easy, I mean taking it easy on the body. Low level photography is often strenuous because when people use a view finder to frame the subject they have to go as low as possible putting a lot of strain on your neck. I over come this with 2 options.
Work with a body that has a swivel LCD screen. Thats the most convenient way to get to any low level without much bending. You can see from the image below how convenient it is to work with such camera bodies. I am using a Canon EOS R6 mirrorless body here.
Second is to use a right angle view finder. This is a fixture to the eye-piece and is available to most camera bodies. I found one that is generic and use it. The makes the viewfinder angle perpendicular to the ground.
The one that I use is available here. They have eye-piece mounts for various camera bodies.
ACCESSORIES FOR LOW ANGLE
While working with telephoto lenses one would obviously need a good support to rest them and then frame the subject. Two options that I use (in the order or preference) are the following:
OPTION 1 > SKIMPOD I have recently started working with this for low angle photography as it provides an excellent support for the lens. These are well machined items that provide the right support and convenience to place on any surface and shoot. I took this to Bharatpur recently and it was the best fit on the marshy areas to place and position (I could push it easily and ensure it was well set on the ground/grass/clay soil). Once set, the lens is mounted easily on the fluid head attached to the SKIMPOD (Fluid head has to be brought separately). The SKIMPOD provided excellent support that enabled me to get very satisfactory images. With the confidence of the skim-pod and the convenience of the articulating screen all my focus and energy was on framing the subjects and nailing the right moments. If anyone is interested I would highly recommend getting them from CAMOLINE here.
Also watch this quick video filmed during my Bharatpur photography tour.
OPTION 2 > Bean-bags One can also mount your heads on a bean bag and then the lens on them. Or just use the beanbag as the lens support directly. Both work - but in my experience skim-pod is better suited in this situation (and I experienced this in Bharatpur):
Bean bags get soiled when working on marshy areas and will start becoming a hassle to use further.
When used on a soil or clay environment their steadiness is much less compared to working with a SKIMPOD.
LOW ANGLE IMAGES
Using these techniques the following images were shot in Bharatpur.
CAMOLINE - TRUSTED PARTNER
CAMOLINE is a trusted partner for my photography. I get my gear covers and bean-bags (with head mounting plates) from them. This blog is not sponsored by them - I have paid for the products and tested them to share my review. They are not just a product company they are a product engineering firm who have toiled so much to get to the right fit for photographers. Talk to Deepak who runs this and you will know that instantly!