Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge (CCY) will be a combination weekly “tips and tricks” combined with a photo challenge.
To find out who was awarded the Gold Star Award and Features for this week, please see CCY Week 5 – Gold Star Award and Features (Leading Lines).
To find out more how to enter this challenge check CCY Home page.
This week’s CCY Theme is Horizontal Line and Horizons.
Photography and horizons go hand in hand especially, when you are taking photos of landscapes or anything that has a strong horizontal line. There are basically a couple of things I want to cover in this week’s essay.
Horizons in general. You are the artist and photographer. You can play with your camera to get a slightly different view with changing where your horizon is in your photo. Horizons go hand in hand with the Rule of Thirds which we will cover in later challenges. Depending on where your horizon is, you guide your viewers to what you want to show off in your photo.
I took this photo many years ago. I always liked it, but people never to seemed to like it as much as I did. I have since learned why. It has both strong vertical and horizontal lines. In this case, the strongest line is the top of the steps separating the trees from the steps.
This is an okay photo. It’s pretty, but where does your eye go, to the stairs or to the trees? I am willing to bet you didn’t even notice that the steps turn to the left. Your eye most likely ends up on the top of the steps and just stays there. That is because your eye goes straight to the horizon in the middle of the photo and doesn’t know where to go next. You might even get the disquieting feeling that you’re missing something when you look at this picture. You should like it but it’s not quite right.
I have cropped this photo a couple of different ways. If I had been a smarter photographer years ago, I would have taken these stairs from a number of different viewpoints, but I didn’t, so I’ll use the magic of cropping to show what a difference using the upper third or lower third of your photo can make in guiding your viewer’s eye.
A High Horizon. In this photo, I simply cropped to a landscape proportion and cut off most of the green trees. This brought the horizon to the upper third of the photo. Now your eye is really guided to look up the steps. Do you see the moss on the steps? You’ll probably even notice the turn of the stairs to the left. Shifting the horizon up makes the steps the focus of the picture, allowing you to see more of the details of the staircase. The top of the steps is still a great horizon for this photo.
If you keep your horizon high, the viewer’s eye travels up, so the main subject will be whatever is below your horizon.
A Low Horizon. This next photo I kept in a portrait proportion since I wanted to show off more of the trees. I cropped to shift the horizon to the bottom third of the photograph. This makes the steps looks small and trees become the focus of the photo. You even really notice the steps leading up on the left because they are in the trees.
Keep your horizon low, and the viewer’s eye lands on the top two thirds of the photo, making the upper part your subject of focus.
Keep your horizon level. This has actually become a pet peeve of mine. If you are serious about photography, you really need to keep an eye of how level your photo is. You don’t want to see the ocean spilling to one side of your photo. It just doesn’t look natural, especially where the horizon has a strong line. And that is what this essay is all about. If you don’t think it is necessary to have a straight horizon in your photo, think about a couple of things we normally see straight or want to straighten if they are crooked. Televisions or movie screens are always straight. How many times have you wanted to straighten a picture in someone’s house or restaurant? Our brains like to see a straight horizon.
In this first photo you can see that the U.S. Coast Guard boat and the mountains are tilting downward to the right of photo. Sea sick, anyone? Note: I purposely changed the tilt in this horizon in example below.
Here is the photo again with a good horizon.
So when you are taking photos, be aware of where your horizon is and make sure your horizon is fairly close to being level. Many cameras have a 3×3 grid, or a level you can use as you look through your view finder (or screen) that will help with your horizon, too.
If you do take a shot that is a little off, there are a lot of software applications that will help you straighten your lines. I use Bridge, which is a part of Adobe Photoshop, to straighten my horizons when needed. If any of you have software that lets you straighten your horizon, please mention it the comment section below. Other people may be interested in finding easy and cheaper ways of getting a horizon straight.
Show us 4 to 6 photos where there are a lot of horizontal lines not necessary horizons or you have at least one strong horizon line.
Tell us what type of software, if any, you use for straightening your horizons.
Extra credit for Gold Star Award
Show us at least two photos with multiple horizons. Yes, the horizons have to be straight.
Here’s an example of multiple horizons: old pier, edge of river, mountain range.
As always, if you don’t have post-processing software that corrects horizons, please let me know in your post. This way I can still consider you for Features and Gold Star Award.
Current Series – All About Lines
- Week #5 Leading Lines
- Week #6 Horizontal Line and Horizons
- Week #7 Vertical Lines
- Week #8 Diagonal Lines
The Next Series – The Rule of Thirds
- Week #9 Right or Left 1/3 of your photo frame
- Week #10 Top or Bottom 1/3 of your photo frame
- Week #11 Using 1/9 to 2/9 of your photo frame
- Week #12 Using 2/3 of your photo frame
- Week #13 Critique My Work – I will give show you a couple of photos and you can either copy them and correct the compositional errors or write a post about how I got things wrong or right.
My Entry for the Week
For galleries, click on any photo to see larger size. I usually eyeball to get as straight as photo as I can. Then any fixes I do in Adobe Bridge.
My Extra-Credit Photos
Here are my multiple horizons photos.
I took this photo at Astoria last week specifically for this challenge. It has horizontal lines all over, the ship, the bridge (behind the ship to the left), the seawall, the railroad tracks.
This photo has the glass, the table and the water line as horizons. It shows how level the table was.
Qi (energy) hugs