How do you set camera angles? is one question often asked by cinematographers and photographers, so in this article, I will show you how to set camera angles?
Setting camera angles are basically camera techniques that every cinematographer or photographer should master and use whenever they get behind the camera.
We can term it acting on-camera which simply entails understanding the way you ought to communicate to your audience through static (picture) and visual (video) elements.
Whenever you get behind the camera working, especially for clients; you must exhibit and bring to life those skills for the purpose of satisfying your clients as well as the audience who are going to view or watch the finished jobs.
So how then can you set camera angles? let’s get down to answering that question.
How to set camera angles.
There are basically two (2) ways you can set camera angles and they are:
- Hand-held shooting
- Using a tripod stand
1. Hand-held shooting.
Especially when taking photographs, the traditional method is to hold the camera in your hand. But cinematographers try so hard to avoid this method for fear of getting shaky video clips.
However, there are no limits to the nice camera shots you can achieve by holding a camera in your hand. For example, you cannot achieve nice video clips on a tripod when filming action scenes like people fighting, running or even riding on a bike.
Most shots will require you to swiftly move your camera horizontally, point it upwards (if you are taking a low shot), or point it downward (if you are taking a high shot).
Sometimes you will have to hold the camera above your head or even perform a slight shake to interpret a particular scenario.
So in essence, every cinematographer and photographer must learn how to master the art of using their hand to set camera angles.
A brief history of hand-held shooting.
Hand-held shooting originated from TV news and documentaries because there was always not enough time to set the camera on a tripod stand.
This urgency and demanding situations, like in war zones or riots often dictate that you would miss a sequence before you try to look into the camera’s viewfinder.
And the worst part of it is that there were always no second chances to take the shots again. And the only way out of this situation was to always adopt the hand-held method to set your camera angles.
Another situation that also gave rise to setting a camera angle using the hand-held method is when filming a demanding situation like war or action films, you need to choose speed and flexibility over getting that perfect shot.
However, no matter how demanding the circumstances are when setting your camera angle, the ability to shoot perfect shots using the hand-held method is an essential skill every video or cameraman must have.
Hitherto, even though using hand-held techniques to set camera angles is quick and adaptable, it also adds some realism to the shooting style that interprets a particular sequence.
For example, if someone is running, the camera has to interpret that sequence by being shaky.
Below are a few tips that will help you achieve perfect shots when you set your camera angle using the hand-held method.
Tips to achieve perfect shots using the hand-held method to set your camera angles.
- If you are holding a big camera, place it firmly on your shoulders, but if it’s a DSLR, hold the camera close to your body and support it with both hands.
- Use a zoom lens instead of prime lenses or 35mm, because the former will add a little weight that will make the camera firmer while the latter will seem too light and make the camera seem off balance.
- Spread your legs apart to provide stability to your body as standing with your legs and feet too close together will make you unstable.
- Always find something to lean against if you are shooting a static shot. A tree, door frame, pillar, or anything that will provide additional support is ok.
- If you are planning the shot with this method, make sure you hold the camera close to your body and keep your arms steady. Also, keep your legs firm and still and avoid bending your knees, only use your hips to make the panning movement.
- If you will be moving backward while taking your shots with this method, make sure you have someone standing behind to guide your back. This is because while looking down the lens you will have no idea of what’s behind to pull you down. You can only avoid this when someone else is guiding you behind.
2. Using a tripod stand.
Setting your camera angles on a tripod stand is the perfect way to have steady and unskahy shots.
But before you can do so, you must know the right way of using a tripod stand, and below is the step-by-step way to do so.
How to use a tripod stand.
- Make sure the tripod stand you are using is compatible with your camera before you move the camera and tripod stand to the location you want to take your shot.
- Arrange the legs of the tripod stand and ensure one of the legs is pointing in the direction you are going to take your shot. The reason you must do this is so you could have a space to stand between the other two legs.
- Extend the legs section by starting with the thickest sections first because they provide more stable support than the thinner ones. Adjust to whatever size will help you focus on the camera’s screen or viewfinder withut stress.
- To give the tripod stand extra support, you can find something that will help you add some weight to the center. You can even have your camera bag here.
- To make sure your tripod stand is balanced, check the level that comes with the tripod ofr if it doesn’t have one, ensure the center post of the tripod is perpendicular to the ground.