Best way to shoot an overhead angle photo with a DSLR camera

Certain subjects you want to photograph with your DSLR camera require that you use odd angles. If you’re shooting a large group photo, for example, you may need to stand on a ladder to gain a higher angle to the group, making it easier to keep everyone in focus. When shooting a scene where you want to highlight a series of related objects laying on a desktop or table, you may want to shoot from an overhead angle, allowing for all of the objects to be easily seen and in focus. Continue reading to learn some tips for shooting photos with a DSLR camera from an overhead angle.

Before you begin, you’ll want to ensure that all of the objects in the photo are an equal distance from the camera (in terms of the focal plane), which means you’ll want to lay them out on a flat surface, such as a table or desk. Certainly the objects at the edges of the scene will be farther from the camera than the objects immediately below the camera, but they’ll at least be on the same focal plane.

Using a C-stand. Now you need to mount the camera, allowing you to shoot the photo from above the objects. Perhaps the best method for shooting from directly above the objects is to make use of a light stand, called a C-stand. This type of stand can be up to 10 feet tall when fully extended vertically, but it typically has a segment a little over halfway from the bottom of the stand, allowing you to bend the stand up to 180 degrees. The camera will attach near the top of the stand, so when you bend the segmented arm, the DSLR camera is able to extend a few feet from the center of the stand, such as over the top of the table or desk. You probably will have to add a clamp or tripod head to the arm to keep the camera steadily attached.

Using a tripod. A standard tripod will work well for overhead photos too, but it will be a bit more difficult to set up properly, because it cannot easily extend over the desk or table like the C-stand. If you’re shooting a series of objects mounted to a vertical surface, the tripod will work perfectly though.

Mounting the camera. You can construct a simple frame out of wood on which you can mount the DSLR camera or to which you can mount a standard tripod. The wooden frame will provide stability for the camera, while also giving you the ability to create the proper overhead angle to photograph the desired objects. By constructing a frame, you also could mount lights to it, which will provide better photographic results than relying on lights that aren’t mounted at the proper angle.

Hand holding the camera. Attempting to hand hold the camera while shooting an overhead angle photo is the least desirable option, as it can be very difficult to hold the camera steady at this odd shooting angle. If you must handhold the camera, try standing on a ladder to give you a steady surface on which to stand. And if at all possible, use the DSLR’s viewfinder to frame the scene, because you’ll be able to hold the camera steadier if it’s pressed against your eye socket.