Dutch Angles, Yay or Nay?

I had a conversation with my blogging friend Stacy at Visual Venturing about Dutch Angles and how I typically don’t prefer this photography technique, so I thought I’d show you one of my own. This image wasn’t intentionally shot this way as I typically do not attempt to capture just half of a person’s body, and I didn’t intend for the scene to look like the cyclist was cycling down a steep hill. I caught sight of his motorcycle-looking bicycle at the last second and clicked the shutter as my arm swung with my stride. It was a total fluke that I got this much of him in the frame.

Side note: I strongly recommend that you click over to Stacy’s blog to see the great imagery she posts each day. She’s one of my favorite bloggers and has become a great friend.

The truth of the matter is, I can’t seem to figure out what it is about this image that I actually like, but there is something pulling me in. Perhaps it IS the Dutch Angle, or the fact that the subject’s motion is enhanced by the image being completely out of focus, or maybe I like that the subject is just entering the frame and appears to be taking us for a ride somewhere.

In either case, I give you this shot today. I’d love to hear from you and find out what may or may not strike you about this image. I find it utterly confusing.

cycling toronto queen st

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28 comments

  1. Shane I think it works because of all those things you said… sometimes not doing what you should works great for whatever reason. I think its great. AND thanks for teaching me about Dutch angles… I don’t mind them because they are not ordinary and not what you usually see with your eyes, its a whole different perspective.. I will look more into them.

    PS Yes Stacy is great and I really like her photographs. I do follow her as well.

    1. You’re right Karen, it definitely can be an interesting angle. I just think it has to be done correctly. It definitely doesn’t work in all instances.

      Glad I was able to teach you something 🙂

  2. Hiya Shane! Happy Canada day for today or yesterday 🙂
    The first thing that grabs me here is obviously the guy who takes up his share of the frame… Next is all the movement and not necessarily the angle at all.
    This image is full of life and patterns everywhere! A memorable shot long after the fact 🙂

      1. Lol.. I was sure too, but then I wondered if the angle created all of that?
        I don’t think so, because the elements change within the image on different days.
        It really is a memorable shot!! ..and thought provoking 🙂

  3. I think what makes this photo interesting is everything you mentionned, the angle, the fact that you only got half the subject and the out of focus. It does gives an impression of fast movement on the photo

    1. Thanks so much. Having lived and worked through the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto, I think the image is a true representation of the feeling you get while you’re walking around down there.

  4. Wow, wow, wow, Shane! Or, if I was British, I’m chuffed to nuts! Or In WordPress parlance, I feel like I’ve been Freshly Pressed 🙂 Thank you for the wonderful shout out. So totally unexpected; you really took my breath away… You know the feeling is absolutely mutual.

    So, now, taking my head out of the clouds, let me respond to your Dutch angle photo 🙂 I think it works brilliantly in this photo. While the soft focus and the composition certainly convey movement, the angle absolutely enhances the feeling (Hmm, wonder what the message would have been had the angle been counterclockwise – probably make me think of the San Francisco hills 😉 ) I also love the bicycles in the background; subliminally adds to the theme of the photo. Couple everything with your wonderful style, and you’ve got a winner of a photograph — wipe that confusion away 🙂 (Think I’ve used enough emoticons??)

    1. Ha Stacy! That’s too funny. This was hardly a Freshly Pressed moment. The couple of clicks you might get from my post isn’t even a spit compared to the rain storm you get from being Freshly Pressed… which I’m so grateful for and lucky to have experienced.

      In either case, I’m glad you liked the post and for the onslaught of emoticons 🙂

  5. I didn’t know that technique was called “Dutch angle” but I actually really like it. Cutting parts off people can help draw attention to different aspects of the picture and make it more interesting to look at.

    1. I agree, it sometimes works much better when your subject is moving into or out of the frame. It can help to create a sense of wonder, and make the viewer want to know more… “where is this person going?”

  6. I’ve never really tried dutch angles. One image i tilted for my own eye but I never knew about them until recently someone else mentioned it. I like your image and I think it’s because of the bike being partly in the photo. The tilt does feel like more motion to me and I think it works well for city “life”. Nice shot!

  7. Shane, I love this! I think my eye digs it because it’s divided by a grid-like pattern that creates negative spaces for the eye to rest, and some semblance of order. (The spaces between the wires, the color block buildings) But then the excitement of motion, a crazy angle and a human form to distrupt that system. I’d never heard of a Dutch Angle before, thanks for enlightening me!

  8. Rare! I use them quite rarely. I’m not against them at all but I don’t care for their overuse. It doesn’t take much before it seems gimmicky.

  9. I generally don’t like dutch angle. I think it’s mostly due to me being a landscape photographer and it is nearly impossible to make a nice dutch angle landscape photo work. For this particular photo I think it works though. You’ve got the buildings in the back that seem like they are going to fall off the frame but then the guy on the bike helps keep them in balance and really helps make this shot. I think without him the photo just wouldn’t work out so well. I did a tilt on the monitor to see how it would be straightened out and it doesn’t seem to give the same feel as it is at an angle. I think the angle really helps give it more dramatic motion as you have a rider on a bike and it makes it look as though he may be going faster than he really is due to the perception of a down-slope vs. a horizontal road. Those are my thoughts on this photo at least.

    In any case, great shot Shane.

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