From Water Level: The Swan Hero Shot


By Deb Sandidge

One of my favorite spots to photograph is Lake Eola in downtown Orlando, Florida. This popular lake features many swans, ducks and geese, along with a beautiful centerpiece fountain. I’ve always wanted to photograph at “water level” for a totally different point of view, but setting up at this location is almost impossible with a tripod as space is limited, and there are many people wanting to enjoy the view.

Sunset is especially nice at Lake Eola, so it was important to stabilize the camera as the best shots were at low light. To give the viewer the feeling that they were in the water, swimming with the swans, I placed my camera at the waters edge, and used my 16mm fisheye lens for the widest possible vantage point, and then waited for my feathered friends to swim into the scene. Despite being nipped by an overly curious swan, I had fun capturing interesting perspective shots. This water level perspective added a subtle, creative element to the image.


My solution for stabilization was to use Platypod Max with my Nikon D500, which has a touch-screen tilting monitor. This offered the perfect solution for leveling the camera through virtual horizon, and easily view the composition through the tilted monitor. Unlike a tripod in a crowded area, Platapod took up less space than a small iPad.  The swans, geese and ducks naturally swim close to the shoreline at Lake Eola, offering great opportunities for the creative photographer.

Having my composition, and camera, and subjects ready, I knew it was a matter of time to capture just the right shot. A beautiful swan swam right in front of me, looked right at the camera and posed.  It was this cameo appearance that stole the scene. The shot was made possible with the extra low perspective, capturing the beautiful background of the Orlando cityscape at the same time. Placing my Platypod Max right at the waters edge put my camera in a stable and perfect position for a unique, one-of-a-kind shot.

About the Author: Deborah Sandidge is a professional photographer specializing in world travel and artistic imagery. Deborah is a photography instructor and the author of the book Digital Infrared Photography.