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3.3: Level Horizon

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    This lesson will help you learn and practice Level Horizon. In Get the Basics, you'll get explanations and photos to build understanding. In Explore, you'll find additional online resources to learn more. It's important to review and learn from these resources also! You'll have opportunities to practice in Build Your Skills. Finally, answer the questions in Record Your Findings at the end of this topic, be sure to include information you learned from the Explore resources.

    Get the Basics

    When you look at a landscape, you’re used to seeing a level horizon. Even with your head tilted, your brain still registers the horizon as being level. It's just the way our brains are wired. The horizon should be horizontal (horizon – horizontal – get it?) This is true indoor as well. Floors and ceilings should be horizontal. When you see a photo with a tilted horizon, it doesn't look right.

    photo of a harbor with a tilted horizon

    Another thing to keep in mind with the horizon is the rule of thirds. You’ll want to place the level horizon one-third from the bottom of the photo if you want more sky or one-third from the top if you want more land or water. Here are examples of each.

    Level horizon with 1/3 land and 2/3 sky:

    Rocky Mountains

    Level horizon with 2/3 land and 1/3 sky:

    mountains in Tuscany, Italy


    Before shooting your own level horizon photos, learn more about why you need a level horizon at Photography Lesson - The Importance of Straight Horizons from About:

    Get some quick tips at Getting Horizons Horizontal from Digital Photography School:

    Now, learn more level horizon techniques at 4 ways to insure a level horizon from Digital Camera World:

    Build Your Skills

    Shoot four or more pairs of photos. For the first photo in each pair, let the horizon tilt. For the second photo in each pair, concentrate on keeping a level horizon. Choose a variety of subjects: landscape with some sky, sky with some landscape, sky-horizon like a sunset or sunrise, and indoor with the floor or ceiling line showing.

    Compare your level horizon photo pairs. Select FOUR pairs. Share your photo pairs with your teacher, and be prepared to discuss how they show what you’ve learned. Download your photos to a computer to keep them for the portfolio you’ll create in the end-of-course final project.

    Record Your Findings

    • What is a level horizon?
    • Why is a level horizon important?
    • How does the rule of thirds apply to a level horizon?
    • How did you insure a level horizon in each of the four pairs you selected?


    Image Reference Attributions

    [Figure 1]

    Credit: Ian ‘Harry’ Harris; March 14, 2009

    [Figure 2]

    Credit: darrylh; January 24, 2007

    [Figure 3]

    Credit: pmecologic; October 22, 2009

    This page titled 3.3: Level Horizon is shared under a CK-12 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by CK-12 Foundation via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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