Looking directly down at a cluster of simple houses
CBWC,  Photographic techniques,  Themed galleries

Gallery: ways of seeing

To me, photography is an art of observation . . . I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

Elliott Erwin

It’s all too easy perhaps to spot something photo-worthy, grab a couple of shots and move on. But I’ve found that the first shot you take, or even the third, is rarely the best. In the ‘old days’ of film photography, most of us could only afford to take two or three shots at most. If you wanted to come away with a memorable image it was important to take your time, walk around the subject and choose the best perspective.

Today we can enjoy the luxury of being able to do both, to take the obvious shot and the less obvious. And that’s what I usually try to do. I think of my first few shots as ‘record shots’; they’re an accurate record of what I saw (the building, the monument, the animal, the scenery). But they are rarely the most interesting image that I’ll take away from the scene; that comes later. Often that will be a small detail, but sometimes it’s a view from a completely different angle.

And that’s what Cee asks us to find for this week’s CBWC challenge: an unusual perspective. So I trawled my archives and came up with this selection. None of these, except maybe the photo of a Moroccan desert village taken from a balloon, will have been my first ‘take’ on the subject. But all of them, I hope, will give you a different perspective on it. All images apart from the NYC one were edited with Nik Silver Efex; the one from Top of the Rock was converted with Photoshop Elements.

Looking directly down at a simple house

A Moroccan desert house photographed from a balloon


Looking down at a woman and two donkeys climbing a mountain track

Donkeys in the Colca Canyon area, Peru, photographed from higher up the hill


Looking up at a clump of tall pine trees

From looking down to looking up; trees at Kielder Water, Northumberland


Small dog by two people's feet

Getting down to a dog’s eye-level view at a café in Hanoi, Vietnam


Circular window with distorting glass

A distorted view, looking through the glass of Cape May Lighthouse, NJ


Distorted image of tall buildings

Another distortion; London’s Docklands reflected in a street sculpture


Distorted image of photographer and buildings

And another very weird reflection, this time in a street sculpture near St Paul’s cathedral, London (photographer included!)


Reflection of mountains in a car's wing mirror

Taken as we were leaving Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming


Puddle in cobblestones with a tower reflected

Looking for a different angle on a much-photographed sight: La Giralda, Seville, reflected in a night time puddle


View of city with skyscrapers, with a binocular device in the foreground

And the Empire State Building as seen from the Top of Rock, NYC. Do the coin-operated binoculars look like a face to you, also enjoying the view?


Diagonal lines of a modern building with a small tree in front

Zooming in on a building in Hoxton, east London


Elongated shadow of a woman with crutches

And finally, a different sort of selfie; a self-portrait on crutches, Essaouira, Morocco

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