Using Horizontal Lines to Enhance your Photography

The one thing I like most about photography is utilising lines and horizons to give a landscape more vitality, more punch. But what I have learnt to do is ensure the horizon is actually horizontal.

There is two ways of achieving this:

1. Tripod with bubble-level.

The bubble-level is not compulsory since most cameras have the points within the view-finder. Mostly you can line them up along the image, but since the view-finder is so small and the horizon is sooooo long, there is a large margin for error.

2. Photoshop.

It’s not difficult to adjust the horizon using Photoshop or GIMP or any one of the many photo-manipulation programs. My aim here is not to show you how, only to tell you that is surprisingly easy to adjust the horizon in half-degrees within both Photoshop and GIMP.
So when your images are not perfect at the time of shooting, you can adjust them in post-production.

(BTW: Photoshop is to photo-manipulation in the same way that Hoover is to vacuuming. It’s just a word: You can use any software to achieve this method:)

So before you take any photograph, it is important to know where and when the horizon should be adjusted. Here are my thoughts on the issue:

1. Next time you are viewing the world through your camera, ensure the landscape is horizontal.
There is a reason it is called the horizon! The main thing here is, where there is horizon, it should be horizontal. Stands to reason. When your horizon dips to the left or right, your viewer will notice and will wonder what went wrong. To keep your viewer focused on the image, don’t let them think about how it was done, rather make them feel as if they are within the photo.

2. Don’t go for the standard amount of land and sky, that’s nothing but boring!
The trick is to have a little of one or the other, depending on what you see. It might be that the landscape has all the colour, pattern or subject matter. Then you need to decide if the sky will help or hinder the subject. If the sky is where the image is, chop out as much of the land as possible.

3. The horizon between land and sky need only be straight.
Where you have undulating hills or lines between differing subjects, that line is wherever it belongs. Try not to attempt to straighten the lines on a building: The wave of a building rising around the photograph will help enhance its height. The curve of a car will give it vitality. Rather than correcting the vertical and horizontal of these, lines, enhance them further. But not so much that they seem surreal.

Hope this information helps you to take better landscape photographs. Happy hunting!

Meditative State
Yes, the image above is one of my own that displays merely the horizontal aspects specified in my article. Yes, it is a 50/50 split of sky and land and is quite bland. It serves its purpose.

2 thoughts on “Using Horizontal Lines to Enhance your Photography

Add yours

  1. I would agree with #2. While I am guilty of it myself sometimes, I don’t care for shots where the horizon splits the photograph 50/50.


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