I’ve been very interested in non-traditional compositions as of late.
The first thing I wanted to inspect was the ‘Dutch Angle’.
Pretty much a dutch angle is tilting your camera, and making the horizon of your photo tilted. It originated from classic German film. The reason why it is called the “Dutch” angle is from a mispronunciation — it is actually the “Deutsch” angle. It is not related to the Dutch people or language.
So perhaps, we should call it the “German Angle” or the “German Tilt.”
This is what Wikipedia says on the Dutch Angle:
The Dutch angle, also known as Dutch tilt, canted angle, oblique angle or German angle, is a type of camera shot where the camera is set at an angle on its roll axis so that the shot is composed with vertical lines at an angle to the side of the frame, or so that the horizon line of the shot is not parallel with the bottom of the camera frame. This produces a viewpoint akin to tilting one’s head to the side.
For me I love the Dutch angle, because it creates a psychological uneasiness. Things feel off-kilter, unsteady, and unusual.
Examples from Film Noir
I see lots of great examples of the Dutch Angle in film noir, like the film: “Kiss Me Deadly”:
Horizon outlined in red:
Alfred Hitchcok’s Birds:
The Third Man:
Another great scene from The Third Man:
Dutch Angle in Photography
So we looked at some examples of the dutch angle in film, how about photography?
Garry Winogrand was one of the masters of the ‘dutch angle’ in street photography. Note how he purposefully tilted many of his horizons, to make his photos seem more edgy, and off-kilter:
I honestly couldn’t think of many other photographers off the top of my head who I think shot ‘dutch angles’ on purpose.
Based on looking at Winogrand’s body of work — I think he did it quite intentionally.
How to add the dutch angle to your photography
If you want to integrate the ‘dutch angle’ to your photography, all you need to do is tilt your camera. Turn it a little to the left, or to the right. And however much you decide to tilt the camera is up to you.
If you do the dutch angle, you will probably get criticized by landscape/architecture photographers. Not only that, but the dutch angle is generally frowned upon by ‘pro’ photographers.
But for me, photography is all about having fun, and experimenting.
So just try it out for yourself, and see if you like it.
Photography composition lessons
Take your composition to the next level: