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How To Get The Horizon Right In Landscape Shots

Techniques > How To Get The Horizon Right In Landscape Shots

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Category: Landscape and Travel

Landscape Photography Technique - Horizons - How to position the horizon when shooting landscapes.

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Higher Shelf Stones
Photo by Peter Bargh


Tripod – you'll need to adjust the height you're working at or tilt the camera and a tripod will make this easier. They also help keep your horizons straight and slow you down, making you think more about composition. Take a look at the Manfrotto 290 Series, 190 and 055 range of tripods if you're in the market for a new model. You can also enter our exclusive competition where there's four Manfrotto 290 Series tripods up for grabs. 


Where To Put The Horizon?

It's important that your horizon doesn't cut through the centre of your image, If the sky's more interesting move it down and if the land's what the viewer should be looking at move it up. That way, they'll know where their focus is meant to be. Of course there are times when breaking the rules do work, such as when your photo includes an eye-catching reflection in a lake, so don't dismiss putting your horizons in the centre of your images completely.

If you're at the coast, shooting the sea and the sky has particularly interesting cloud formations or it's an amazing sunset, lower the horizon so the sky fills most of the frame. But if you want to include some foreground interest or create the sense of distance in your image, move the horizon up. Just remember to use a small aperture so you get front-to-back sharpness.

How To Adjust The Position

You can either tilt the camera, move its position higher or lower or take your shot as normal and crop the image later when you're in front of your computer.

If you have lots of vertical shapes such as trees and tall buildings in your shot, tilting the camera can cause perspective problems. However, if you're at the coast without a building in sight you should be fine.

To give your camera more/less height adjust your tripod's legs. Just make sure the locks are secure before you start taking your shot as you don't want your camera to start sliding down while you're trying to frame up. If you need more height you can adjust the centre column but do adjust the legs first before doing this as the legs offer a more stable base to work with. If you have a tripod such as some of those available in Manfrotto's 290 series that extend to 150cm you may not need to use the centre column at all. This series is also light weight, as too is the new Befree tripod, making them ideal for trips to the coast or countryside.

Keep It Straight

You don't want it to look like your landscapes going to vanish out of the side of the frame so do double-check your horizon's straight before taking your shot. Most tripods feature spirit levels which will show you if your tripod's straight. If you don't have one Manfrotto have a model that can fasten to a camera's hotshoe. There is the odd occasion where the spirit level will tell you the shot's wonky but your eye will know different so trust your instincts on these occasions.

If you do take your shot and get home before you realise it's slanting to one side don't worry, as a simple crop in Photoshop will have your image back upright. You can also crop your shot to shift the position of the horizon too.

See what exciting & new content is available on the Manfrotto website:


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