Photography | Pro Tip #1 | Horizon Lines

Photography Pro Tips

June 1, 2020

I love when friends post pictures on Facebook and Instagram of their summer adventures but you know what stops me in my tracks and makes me cringe…. wonky HORIZON LINES!!

I know what you must be thinking… oh come on Catherine… how important are horizon lines? Well…check out the 17 images below and hopefully you will see my point!

You’ve probably never thought about horizon lines in your photographs before but I bet after reading these tips you will. In fact, once you learn these tips you will see photographs differently. Next time you look at a picture your friend posts of their family frolicking on the beach you’ll check to see if the horizon line is straight and where the horizon line is positioned.

It can kind of make you crazy…YOU’RE WELCOME!

Thankfully, with digital cameras and iPhones you don’t have to worry about getting a perfectly straight horizon line with each click of the shutter button because it can easily be fixed in post processing. (Directions on how to edit are below).

But wait…There is something else you should know about horizon lines…
Watch where the horizon line hits your subject. Don’t let the horizon line cut your subject between the ears!
The placement of the horizon line running through your subjects head is something you CAN’T easily fix in post processing so take the time to get it right in camera. Also, the proper placement of the horizon line in an image can make a BIG IMPACT and totally change the entire feel of the image.

How to position the horizon line in your photograph…

To adjust the position of the horizon line in your photograph you need to adjust the position from where you are shooting/standing. Do this by squatting down and shooting from a lower position or shooting from a higher position. Do what you need to do to make sure the horizon line isn’t cutting your subject through the head.

When I first started taking portraits on the beach I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like a photograph when everything in the image seemed perfect but something was still off….it was where the horizon line was hitting my subject.

The GREAT news about shooting from different positions (low or high) is that it will also create more interest in your image so you are accomplishing two things at once. YAY YOU!

There is an exceptions…I like to shoot wide open (more on aperture in a later post). When I shoot at f1.6 the horizon line melts into the background. When you take a picture with an iPhone or shoot higher than f2.8 the horizon line will be more pronounced so be mindful as to where it’s positioned. 

I’m a big believer in learning the rules of photography and then breaking them. So… know that it’s totally fine to have a wonky horizon line if you are going for an artistic vibe. BUT… make sure it’s WAY off and not slightly off so everyone will know it’s on purpose.

I hope these tips will make a big impact in your photographs and will give you something to think about the next time you are out shooting.

For more photography tips and tricks be sure to go to my website and register for my monthly newsletter. Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

 

How to Straighten a Horizon Line on an iPhone

pull up an image in your photo gallery and click on it to enlarge

click Edit at the top right hand corner 

click the crop tool at the bottom near the Done button

move the slider side to side to adjust the horizon line using the grid that is provided

click Done and voila you have taken your photo to the next level

How to Straighten a Horizon Line In Lightroom

Go to the Develop Panel 

Underneath the Histogram (on the right side of your screen) click the Crop Overlay tool (it’s a square) 

Move the Angle Slider side to side to adjust the horizon line using the overlay grid that is provided 

Click Done

*There are other ways to straighten a horizon line in Lightroom but this is a great place to start and is the technique I most often use.

Here is another example where the dunes in the background are running through her head but it works. I shot this at f2.0 so the dunes melt into the background. Shooting wide open is one way to solve harsh horizon lines.

 

 

  1. Verna Cook says:

    Thanks for the advice. There are a lot of things to think about while framing a subject. I’ll try to remember these hints.

    • Catherine Feldman says:

      I’m so glad you found these tips helpful! Tiny adjustments can make a BIG IMPACT in a photograph!

  2. Jamie Fernandez de Castro says:

    Thanks for the tips.
    I’ll be sure to follow this great advice for future pics!

  3. Tricia Kolb says:

    Wow! These tips make a big difference! Thanks!!

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