Straight horizons... Or not?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by fransglans, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 12, 2012
    Real Name:
    I been thinking of the phenomenon that a lot of commercial folks are leaving the horizons not straightened. like this one from my closest airport;
  2. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    Real Name:
    rob collins
    You know I read a 'rule' once that said something like this. You can either have a horizon straight or off by at least 15 degrees.

    It is generally when it 'appears that you meant the horizon to be straight' and 'it isnt', that it doesnt work.

    Here is a photo I took of my son fishing yesterday. Well, its not the greatest photo but I do think the fact that the 'horizon isnt meant to be straight' works...

  3. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 12, 2012
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    Nice fishing pic Robbie :)
    Maybe it's time for me to start thinking out of the box and welcome this technique :)
  4. Johnny_Alucard

    Johnny_Alucard Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 28, 2013
    Never heard that rule before, but it is how I always approach a shot.
    It either has to be level, or it has to very clearly be an artistic choice to not have it so.
  5. elavon

    elavon Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2012
    Tel Aviv Israel
    Real Name:
    In both pictures the horizon is in the background, when shooting classical landscape it is better to straighten the horizon. Again this is the photographer choice and can be worked either way.
  6. Talanis

    Talanis Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 15, 2012
    Sherbrooke, Canada
    Real Name:
    Eric Cote
    In landscape, especially if there is water, I prefer a leveled horizon. In portraits, that's different and I will often tilt the camera.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Mu-43 mobile app
  7. newbert

    newbert Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 22, 2012
    Glens Falls, NY
    The issue isn't whether a horizon is straight - it's whether or not it is level. I shoot a lot of landscapes and an un-level horizon is a real bugaboo with me. For some reason, it just jumps out at me. But that's regarding images of natural scenery.

    In the case of the OP's posted image (an urban setting with no "natural" horizon), I don't see any problem with it.
  8. arad85

    arad85 Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 16, 2012
    The important thing in the OPs picture is the girl appears to be standing upright. If the "horizon" were level, she wouldn't.
  9. monk3y

    monk3y Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 14, 2013
    in The Cloud...
    Real Name:
    yes indeed as long as the main subject is level or have a good angle I could care less for horizon. On the other hand if its a landscape shot and the horizon is part of the subject then I would try and level the photo. :smile:
  10. garfield_cz

    garfield_cz Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 9, 2011
    Czech Republic
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    Now imagine that new bodies has built in electronic level gauge which would bring even more confusion to straight horizon problem :wink:

    Obey or not? :confused:
  11. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 12, 2012
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    Thanks for all input! And sorry for the confusion about horizon, I guess level is the word for it. (English isn't my primary language)

    But anyway, thanks for good food for thought!
  12. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    My guess is that the model was leaning back some, looking up at the sky more originally. Then the graphic designer putting the add together liked look of the model upright instead.

    The photographer may have never intended it to look like that.
  13. Michael in China

    Michael in China Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 7, 2012
    Zhuhai China
    Real Name:
    I really like the vertical level on the E-M5, though I find the horizontal level less useful than the traditional guidelines, which I'm familiar with from 6x6 TLRs. The vertical level helps me keep my verticals, er, vertical.

    Of course, the problem with the vertical level is that if you obey it slavishly, the horizon will split the image into two equal parts - especially noticeable in seascapes. Thus, I often try to shoot with 12mm or 14mm while "seeing" a 17mm or 20mm crop in my mind as the finished product. The old German rangefinders (Brauns, etc.) with their permanent 35mm & 50mm framelines taught me this technique.

    Otherwise, I agree with the consensus here: level horizons for landscape and whatever works with the subject for anything else.
  14. arad85

    arad85 Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 16, 2012
    No. It is the angle of the camera that has done this. Look at the railings behind her. They are all vertical too...

    The reason it is not "flat" is that the lens is fairly wide angle and the photo is taken from a slightly elevated position above her. Look at the building to the left, you see the building sloping towards you - that shows the angle of the camera and that the vanishing points and hence horizon (if you ever did perspective at school) will not be level.
  15. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Real Name:
    In commercial work, if the horizon was not straight the photo used to be rejected.

    I think the 15 deg rule is a good one. But if it looks like it should be straight, straighten it. I do this religiously - maybe I am just anal.
  16. newbert

    newbert Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 22, 2012
    Glens Falls, NY
    I just realized that you're asking about the photo on the billboard. I thought, at first, that you were asking about the image that you posted - and couldn't really see what you were referring to as there's no real horizon in your image. :redface: Now, I see what you're talking about.

    .....And, yes, I agree that in a shot like the one on the billboard, the un-level horizon is a distraction - at least to me.
  17. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    Good topic. I generally always have the electronic level on so most of my photos are straight but I do like and envy people who take creatively interesting photos with unusual angles.
    I find that crooked horizon works well when it helps tell a story of something else that is in the photo. I turned this photo to the side slightly to make the person appear more off balance . I think it works.
  18. arad85

    arad85 Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 16, 2012
    I can still take a crooked horizon - most of mine are slightly down on the right, even when they are pressed with the level straight.... I put it down to slight involuntary movement when I press the shutter.
  19. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 18, 2012
    Real Name:
    Ciaran Reilly
    Perhaps the inbuilt level is not exactly straight either :p

    There is a setting on my E-P1 to calibrate the level gauge, although I haven't done this to date!
  20. htc

    htc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 11, 2011
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    Mine too! I have always thought that it's my eye that is crooked, or something. I could make some sort of preset to correct those, so common it is. Level gauge helps, lines in the viewfinder also.