While making images of landscapes with horizon or any horizontal boundaries, it is important to remember that the boundary has to be kept parallel to the horizontal edge of the frame. This indeed is a very common mistake that many of the photographers do in their initial days of learning. In the enthusiasm of capturing the beauty of the scenery or landscape, on many occasions, we tend to overlook the alignment of the horizon and horizontal edges in the frame. The chances of happening this are many fold when we make the images handheld.

Horizon alignment

You can clearly see in the above image that there is a tiny bit of tilt in the horizon. It may be very trivial for a common man who is viewing this image. Many a times viewer may not notice it at all! Only a trained eye can easily catch it and the image will be tagged as ‘just another’ photo. These things seem small and trivial but believe me, it is these tiny things which distinguishes a professional work from the rest of the crowd.

Below is the image where the horizon is in parallel with the bottom edge of the frame.

Horizon alignment

It is true that the tilt can be corrected during post-processing. But sometimes it comes at a cost – a compromise with the composition! If we had composed the frame with some elements in the foreground or some elements across the frame then the process of correcting the tilt eats up some spaces all around the frame which in many cases impacts the composition. If the original composition is finely balanced, then, the probability of the tilt correction ruining the balance of the composition is very high.

As in the case of below image which was made at KumaraParvatha, the horizon has gone weird with Sun and a flowering plant in the frame being a part of composition.

Horizon alignment

Now, during processing, I tried correcting the tilt BUT that altered the original composition! During the correction phase, it was evident that there was very less space on the left of the plant and much of the part of Sun was getting cropped off!

Horizon alignment

So here is this image, still sitting in my ‘not good’ folder and the only use I have made of this image is here, to show the common error that photographers often make whilst getting carried away by the enthusiasm of making a stunning image without taking the necessary precaution.

All the above points are valid for the cases that has the elements perpendicular to the bottom edge as well!

So next time when you are out there, capturing an amazing sunrise or a dramatic sunset or a sea scape or anything that contains the horizon or horizontal or vertical elements of the scene, exercise caution to get things right on the field. Else, that wonderful moment may simply find a place in your thrash folder. Majority of the times … forever!

A pretty common error … yet an expensive one!

Tip from the wizards:
If you religiously use tripod, always have a bubble level. It’s indeed a handy tool! Of course, the latest technologies have paved way for having an horizontal alignment integrated into the latest DSLR cameras making this “mason’s tool” redundant!

Posted By : Ashwini Bhat

Tagged on:         

One thought on “Horizon alignment

  • July 7, 2011 at 5:17 PM
    Permalink

    This is a very useful and nice article. Writing is as sharp as authors’ photos (excluding long exposures). I feel you should add information to your disciples, such as me, about tools to achieve this. One such example is focus screens, grids etc in the device. 7D has built in feature for the user and others may follow this soon. Prevention is better than cure.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.