Looking up at a gold dome and chandelier
Lens-Artists,  Photographic techniques,  Themed galleries

Gallery: look up, look down

Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open

Dalai Lama

But when you really start to take your photography more seriously, hopefully you learn to look up, and down.

By looking up or down, you see more things you might overlook. And you make the ordinary seem less ordinary by showing it from a new perspective. Look up at a building or tree, look down at a leaf on the ground. There are interesting subjects to be found everywhere if we just take the time to look.

Think about the sense of wonder of a small child. They are looking up at their surroundings from a low perspective. And they are closer to the ground and often spot things adults might miss, things that spark their curiosity.

Looking up in particular can make an image more dynamic. It introduces new angles, both literally and figuratively. And it makes the viewer seem smaller in relation to the subject. Meanwhile looking down will have the opposite effect, making the viewer feel like a giant! And it can help you focus on details.

For this week’s Lens Artists challenge James asks us to ‘go for the extremes of Looking Up, and Looking Down, to show the effects of what you can capture at these angles and get a different perspective on our view of the world’. As so often, I’ve selected some examples from my travels. Some you will have seen before but others, I hope, will be new. My feature photo is of a dome in the Grand Mosque in Salalah, Oman.

Note: I know there are a lot of photos here but believe me I did try to show some restraint! I have so many more I could have included. Do feel free to skim!

Looking up

Looking up at skyscrapers and a monument

Columbus Circle, New York City

Looking up at skyscrapers from a close position emphasises their height; here I’ve included the monument at Columbus Circle too, to add some interest and place the buildings in their setting

Ornate gate with flags and a clock

The entrance to Binh Tay Market, HCMC (Saigon), Vietnam

Sometimes you have to look up to get a subject into your frame if it’s impossible to stand far enough back to take a face-on shot, for example in a busy city

Roofs silhouetted against a bright sky

In Patan’s Durbar Square, Nepal

Looking up at a building against a bright sky can create interesting silhouettes

Tower and statue silhouetted against a bright sky

The Juche Tower, Pyongyang, North Korea

Likewise with a monument

A statue's head and arm, holding a torch

Brightly painted roof detail

Large white ferris wheel

Ferris wheel, Seattle, Washington State

Looking up can often create interesting patterns, turning your subject into something a little more abstract

Strings of coloured flags

Looking up at bare branches with birds perched

Cormorants on the Rio Nosara, Costa Rica

Looking up at these cormorants meant taking a risk, as our guide told us that they poop when scared (we made sure not to get directly underneath)!

Looking up at ferns and leaves

Tree ferns in the cloud forest, Monteverde, Costa Rica

Looking up at this tree fern helps to emphasis the delicate pattern of its leaves, seen against the sky

Bridge surrounded by trees seen from below

Hanging bridge, Selvatura, Costa Rica

And finally in this section, seeing this bridge from below places it in its setting and shows how high it is from the ground

Looking down

Looking down at tree tops

Cluster of houses seen from above

City housing from the air

Looking down at a river with boats

Muddy water with group of hippos seen from above

Animal footprint in mud

Woman in bathing costume with a rubber ring, talking on her phone

Two boys on a path, one looking up at the camera

Abstract shot of waves and patterns on the sea

Blue lake with islands and a boat

Looking down at bookshelves and a person


Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you! And please include your name in case WP marks you 'anonymous' - thank you