The ant's point of view, reloaded

Using a fish-eye lens, low on the ground, facing the sky and shooting plants gives some unusual perspective that I call “the Ant's Point of View”. I've tried it some time ago, in a lavender field, just putting the camera body with the back lying on the ground, thus partially giving up with the control of the perspective. The results weren't bad, but how can you regain control of the composition? In some cases you can use an accessory such as the Nikon DR-6 Rectangular Right Angle Viewfinder, but it's not always feasible; furthermore, I have a problem with back pain arising when I stay too long in an uncomfortable position down on the ground; last but not least, if you're alone and cannot keep an eye at the surroundings you can't watch for possible menaces such as a viper hidden in the tall grass.

The best solution I've found so far is to use the “live view” feature of most modern camera bodies, coupled with some device to make it visible even when the LCD screen is not accessible. Such devices might be a small external screen plugged into the HDMI output of the camera, or using some software running on a smart-phone or tablet capable to have a sort of “live view” when connected to the camera via USB. A simpler variant is to use a camera body with a tilting LCD screen, such as the Nikon D5100.

Anémone à fleurs de narcisse (Anemone narcissiflora).

Nikon D5100 + Samyang 8mm ƒ/3.5 fish-eye II @ 8 mm, 1/250 sec @ ƒ/11, -1.33 EV, ISO 100, hand-held composing with the live-view.

For me, this approach was not possible until some time ago, as my first-generation Samyang 8mm fish-eye wasn't “chipped”, thus it couldn't be used with the D5100. I've recently bought the second generation of this lens, which has got the proper electronics to work with any Nikon digital camera, including the D5100.

I took several shots, slightly moving the camera and checking the composition with the tilted LCD screen, until I found a good alignment of the pattern created by the four cluster of flowers with the shape of the valley in the background. The light was not good and probably the shot would have benefit from some fill-in flash, but having a flash to cover the broad angle of view of the fish-eye (almost 180°) is a problem I have still to solve. But I've got a good result so far.