Shooting upside down
Now I don’t mean you should think about shooting hanging from the monkey bars at the local playground (thanks to some bureaucrats they have all but removed those dangers…. lol), but rather the orientation of your camera.
Let’s take a look at how people shoot with their camera a majority of the time. Using the below diagram let’s explain a couple of things. DSLR stands for “Digital Single Lens Reflex” camera, that utilizes a mirror and a pentaprism to reflect the light from the incoming source through the lens to where it ultimately comes through to your eye. As you can see from the below diagram there can be anywhere from 1.0 to 1.5 inches gap between the Lens Sight Line (that which the camera sees) and the Human Eye Sight Line (that which you see when you are not looking through the camera). In other words as soon as you lift the camera up to your eye you immediately have dropped the physical sight line down by 1.0 to 1.5 inches.
So why does this matter? I recently had a shoot in Rwanda for the Mountain Gorillas. In that shoot there were lots of brush, shrubs, trees, branches, etc. to contend with in shooting the gorillas. Occasionally I would see a shot, lift the camera and find a branch in the way which was below my eye sight line.
So what is the solution?
Turn the camera over!
As you can see from the above diagram, by flipping the camera over and shooting with the camera upside down I was able to gain anywhere from 2.0 to 3.0 inches in additional height (depending on camera). This additional height is all that it took to clear the branches that were initially obstructing my view and gave me ample clearance. Using a body with a vertical grip makes this task much easier.
Keep this in mind whenever you are shooting vertical images as well. Your lens will be further right or left of your eye sight line depending on which way you turn your camera. This is simple to fix as you can simply move a little left or right to fix the change of sight line, unlike shooting horizontal you simply can not grow an extra 1 or 2 inches.
Give it a try next time you are shooting and find something obstructing your view.