Sure, we've all had a good laugh when a friend proudly shows us the classic, horrid photo of his buddy’s derrière hanging above you. While the “butt shot” is not always the first-choice angle for climbing photography, sometimes we just don’t have a choice. Here are a few simple tricks to keep the demeaning laughter to a minimum:
FOCUS ON FACES: Look for facial expressions! This takes some patience, but at some point the climber will inevitably look down, either through the legs or over the shoulder. Zoom in and shoot mega tight, (usually horizontal with the body completely filling the frame works best).
DEPTH OF FIELD: Focus on the first couple of protection pieces (bolts or gear — doesn’t matter) and have the climber in the distance somewhat out of focus. Longer lenses and shallow depths of field help create this dramatic effect.
LEADING LINES: The leader’s rope is a great aid in helping draw the eye through the photo towards the climber. Keep this is mind when composing medium- to wide-angle photos.
BE ORIGINAL: When in doubt, bust out the bag of tricks. The fisheye is great for a crazy perspective if the climber is somewhat close and you can gain good separation between the climber and rock (that is, compose so that the climber is on a “blank canvas,” like a clean piece of sunny granite, or on the arête against an empty sky).