General Rule: Photo Impact is effected by viewing angle

A simple photography recommendation: when you have the option, always try and shoot wildlife at the same elevation as the subject.  Normally this means to get as low as possible, however for some animals such as birds, monkeys or a giraffe, it may mean the higher elevation position is best for the shot.

I planned this article as a lengthy discussion; however, the more I thought about the subject, the more I concluded that a few pictures is worth a thousand words.

An excellent example: Hippos

Hippo action is one of the most difficult shots to get on safari.  Photo Copyright: P. B. Eleazer, III

Hippo action is one of the most difficult shots to get on safari. Photo Copyright: P. B. Eleazer, III

During my recent trip to Chobe, my group organized charter of a double deck pontoon boat.  ( A review of these boats can be found at: http://www.chobesafari.com/photography-tips/boats-boats-boats-and-more-boats.html ).  I chose to position myself on the upper deck, so I could look out onto the flats without obstruction from the bank or from tall grasses.  My friend, Ilan Hirschowitz, chose to shoot from the lower deck.  I could make jokes that he wanted to be closer to the libations on this booze cruise, but in truth, he probably wanted the lower angle for the sunset photos.

When one goes on these cruises, it is a trip of chance:  animals may be very close or at a distance.  As luck would have it, as we passed a hippo, it decided to rebel to our presence and put on quite a display.  This is actually a little rare as these beasts often are not that active unless one encroaches on their space.  The boat was not optimally positioned for the light. Neither of us was fully prepared with the right lenses, but one shoots what they have when the opportunity is presented.  Enough with the excuses.  Presented here are two images shot within a second or two of each other.  As you can see, Ilan had a much better angle in this case.

Low angle shot of an unhappy hippo.  The image was taken near water level on a pontoon boat.  Copyright 2009: Ilan Hirschowitz

Low angle shot of an unhappy hippo. The image was taken near water level on a pontoon boat. Copyright 2009: Ilan Hirschowitz

Hippo making his presence known.  From a lower angle, this could have really have been nice!  Copyright 2009: Prince B. Eleazer, III

Hippo making his presence known. From a lower angle, this could have really have been nice! Copyright 2009: Prince B. Eleazer, III

I think this has made the point, but while we are showing off this proud hippo, here are other images taken from the bottom and top deck:

Lower Deck view: up close and personal dental examination of a hippo.  Photo Copyright: Ilan Hirschowitz

Lower Deck view: up close and personal dental examination of a hippo. Photo Copyright: Ilan Hirschowitz

and my version from above:

Angry Hippo - from the poorer 'high angle' vantage of the second deck of the pontoon boat.  Copyright 2009: Prince B. Eleazer, III

Angry Hippo - from the poorer 'high angle' vantage of the second deck of the pontoon boat. Copyright 2009: Prince B. Eleazer, III

And one final image …. as you can see, I learned my lesson and the next day I was near water level when I snapped this hippo image:

Hippo shot from near water level.  Copyright 2009: Prince B. Eleazer, III

Hippo shot from near water level. Copyright 2009: Prince B. Eleazer, III

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