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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Level Horizons........do they have to be ??...as above realy , i have a small collection of Lawrence Coulson landscape prints ( some over 1000mm wide ) ...
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Old 30-04-2005, 12:25   #1 (permalink)
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Level Horizons........do they have to be ??

as above realy ,

i have a small collection of Lawrence Coulson landscape prints ( some over 1000mm wide ) , this celebrated contemporary landscape painter seems to get away without having ' level horizons ' in his art,

i want to know why almost every pic that has a sloping horizon has this commented on ?
is this just a photography thing , as surly the rules apply to everything whatever the medium ??

i am not having a go here, just wondering what rules count , and which ones can be broken?? and how to justify breaking em without having everyone tell you the horizon is ' out ' ?

my own personal view is that horizons dont have to be level, as the more you straighten , crop ,push n poke an image the less ' natural ' it can become ,

a recent thread showed some great pictures of some F1 cars, and some of them were leveled out to ' improve the image, and to a degree i think the image looked good, but it also made it look like the car was parked up with just some blurring to the tyres ?? or is this just me ? , i felt the originals gave an impression of being on the track, not just static ??or is this just me again ??lol

all this is meant to be a debate, not having a go at anyone here , honest

MP
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Old 30-04-2005, 12:34   #2 (permalink)
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IMO the only time the horizon rule applies, is in a landscape shot.
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Old 30-04-2005, 12:59   #3 (permalink)
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I believe it is very much dependant of the image subject. If it has water in it then it must be level otherwise it instantly stands out as being badly shot. The recent F1 car shots work either way in my opinion however my edited versions where levelled as I basically changed the pictures from being a photography of a f1 car going around the track to a reference detailed picture of a F1 car. The first image would have looked wrong in the second format with an uneven horizon. Neither was right or wrong but both final images are completely different.
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Old 30-04-2005, 13:02   #4 (permalink)
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The other problem is when the horizon is very slightly out, if you turn the camera so that the horizon is almost 45degrees out then that is almost always deliberate and so doesn’t usually show lack of attention providing the subject matter and the rest of the picture matches that style.

Accidental “off horizons” are when things just don’t look right and that can be applied to almost any image on any medium.
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Old 30-04-2005, 13:05   #5 (permalink)
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It's a difficult one in some respects this. Lots of photographs are taken deliberately 'on the skew' for a particular effect, it's quite common with shots of cars and where that's the case, then it's usually obvious that that was the intention and it wouldn't draw any comment.

Photos which are just slightly off level for no other reason than the photographer didn't get it quite right and where it adds nothing to the shot, just make you wonder why the photographer didn't take a little more care. We all do it - it's so easy to be slightly off level when we're concentrating on focus and all the other elements in the shot we're hoping to capture. Fortunately, it's very easily corrected in the post processing.

You have to be particularly careful of this on shots with water, as water is nature' s most accurate spirit level, and it follows that if the horizon level is out, then any vertical elements in your shot will be also.

Before we judge a shot artistically, (whatever that means to each of us) we usually judge it on technical merit - exposure etc. - and being level or not would be a consideration at that stage. Most knowledgable judges in competitions who were hung between two shots appealing equally, would decide in favour of the one which was more tehnically correct out of the two.

Hope that helps mate. :wink:
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Old 30-04-2005, 13:20   #6 (permalink)
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Photos which are just slightly off level for no other reason than the photographer didn't get it quite right and where it adds nothing to the shot, just make you wonder why the photographer didn't take a little more care. We all do it - it's so easy to be slightly off level when we're concentrating on focus and all the other elements in the shot we're hoping to capture. Fortunately, it's very easily corrected in the post processing
so are we talking..................................the camera was perfectly level but the subject isnt, or the subject is level but the camera isnt,

in the first case should the photographer turn the cammera off level to correct the subject ?? if u see what i'm getting at,

is that what u mean by the photographer ' didnt take a little more care ' ?

in the case of water, yes i agree, it will always be ' level ' , but if ur standing at an angle to any shoreline then the the image will show the water running up or down accordingly ,

MP

ps:, i understand deliberate ' arty ' skew style shots, its the representation of the ' real world ' i'm taking about
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Old 30-04-2005, 13:50   #7 (permalink)
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It can be quite difficult to align the horizon perfectly through a small viewfinder - any skew shows up much more on a large screen. IMO the trickiest situation is where there is no horizon, but a coastline or river bank which in reality was not horizontal because of perspective and its own shape. Sometimes the photo looks skew even if it isn't! You can use vertical cues such as buildings, lampposts or telegraph poles to see if it's really level, but there are times when a photo can look better if it's adjusted to be slightly out of true.

I suppose it all boils down to, "If it looks right, it is right!" Sometimes a fraction of a degree can make a difference.
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Old 30-04-2005, 14:12   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyPix
Quote:
Photos which are just slightly off level for no other reason than the photographer didn't get it quite right and where it adds nothing to the shot, just make you wonder why the photographer didn't take a little more care. We all do it - it's so easy to be slightly off level when we're concentrating on focus and all the other elements in the shot we're hoping to capture. Fortunately, it's very easily corrected in the post processing
so are we talking..................................the camera was perfectly level but the subject isnt, or the subject is level but the camera isnt,

in the first case should the photographer turn the cammera off level to correct the subject ?? if u see what i'm getting at,

is that what u mean by the photographer ' didnt take a little more care ' ?

in the case of water, yes i agree, it will always be ' level ' , but if ur standing at an angle to any shoreline then the the image will show the water running up or down accordingly ,

MP

ps:, i understand deliberate ' arty ' skew style shots, its the representation of the ' real world ' i'm taking about

I'm only talking about shots where it's quite obvious that the level is off. Shots taken at an angle are obviously different as you say and it should be a consideration by the viewer. A Silky says, sometimes even when a shot is an accurate representation of the real world situation it can benefit from correction, lose nothing in the process, and avoid any possible disquiet in the viewer.
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Old 01-05-2005, 08:22   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Level Horizons........do they have to be ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyPix
as above realy ,

i have a small collection of Lawrence Coulson landscape prints ( some over 1000mm wide ) , this celebrated contemporary landscape painter seems to get away without having ' level horizons ' in his art,

i want to know why almost every pic that has a sloping horizon has this commented on ?
is this just a photography thing , as surly the rules apply to everything whatever the medium ??

i am not having a go here, just wondering what rules count , and which ones can be broken?? and how to justify breaking em without having everyone tell you the horizon is ' out ' ?

my own personal view is that horizons dont have to be level, as the more you straighten , crop ,push n poke an image the less ' natural ' it can become ,

a recent thread showed some great pictures of some F1 cars, and some of them were leveled out to ' improve the image, and to a degree i think the image looked good, but it also made it look like the car was parked up with just some blurring to the tyres ?? or is this just me ? , i felt the originals gave an impression of being on the track, not just static ??or is this just me again ??lol

all this is meant to be a debate, not having a go at anyone here , honest

MP
All rules can be broken, and indeed, are meant to be, but only by those who understand why the rule is there in the first place. SLanted horizons and compositions can be dynamic if teh subject warrants them, or can just look rubbish if they're done for no reason.

Check out the work of Alexander Rodchenko.... you'll see what I mean.. he's the undisputed master of angles!
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Old 01-05-2005, 09:16   #10 (permalink)
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Nice thread!!!

I think, that if you justify the angle in your photo it can be whatever you like. But if this angle seems to be an error, and not a intention of the picture, it will be a bad one.

In landscapes, may be all of them you have to find something in the frame to level the picture, not necesary the horizon, or the water line, it could be other kind of elements there, light poles, trees, any thing that gives you a reference could work. But try to make it balanced.

But again, theres no rule for this, every photo is diferent, and every photographer too, so, the same picture, at the same place, with diferente photographers, could have a very different point on view. One can be perfeclty level, the other one can be angled. Its ok, but justify your work, and make the people like it, making the audience feel your picture is correct at any angle you choose.
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