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Stephen
10-05-06, 23:59
........do you think, to get your picture level, especially horizons?

hollis_f
11-05-06, 06:55
........do you think, to get your picture level, especially horizons?
I'd say it's very important - most of the time.

A sloping horizon will make the viewer feel uneasy about the picture. Sometimes that may be the feeling you're trying to instil in the viewer, often it is not.

John
11-05-06, 07:47
Yes, it is important unless it is greatly exaggerated, e.g. a raceing car rounding a bend. Don't they call it "Dutch Tilt," or something like that?

Adey Baker
11-05-06, 09:31
What about when the horizon itself isn't quite level - what do you do then?

This shot is 'correct' as the field does slope but does it look 'right?'

Stephen
11-05-06, 09:32
OK, I can see there are many cases where its not so important and it can be a creative tool to tilt the camera. However I'm thinking particularly about landscapes, where there is often a horizon, or a shoreline, you know the sort of thing.

Stephen
11-05-06, 09:37
What about when the horizon itself isn't quite level - what do you do then?

This shot is 'correct' as the field does slope but does it look 'right?'

In such an instance, can something else be used as a reference, maybe the tree for example, is this the full frame btw?

prostie1200
11-05-06, 11:12
What about when the horizon itself isn't quite level - what do you do then?

This shot is 'correct' as the field does slope but does it look 'right?'


Your shot is A OK as far as I am concerned, but it's all down to what you intend to convey to potential viewers.

As far as leveling Horizontal and Vertical elements, I tend to restrict this adjustment to pictures with architectral inclusions, and not do anything to Landscapes unless they are obviously out of sync.

prostie1200
11-05-06, 11:18
Just leveled it and think I prefer the original, in fact yes the original has more character and interest.

Stephen
11-05-06, 11:46
Just leveled it and think I prefer the original, in fact yes the original has more character and interest.

The fact is though that Adey's image is effectively a false horizon, a blind summit even. These are often not level, and when put into the context of the surroundings,as with the tree, would be perfectly acceptable, wouldn't they?

However, and I seem to see this often, when a horizon as in 'The apparent intersection of the earth and sky as seen by an observer' is not level in a photograph, is this acceptable

Tannin
11-05-06, 11:49
Thanks for bringing this up, Stephen, as it's a topic that troubles me regularly.

First, I am terrible at getting horizons straight: as soon as I'm looking through the viewfinder, I seem to go into a different world and have no idea if I'm getting it straight or not. It's OK if I'm on the level myself (e.g., standing in a normal posture) but the moment I'm doing somehing weird (stooping and twisting sideways to look out from underneath a low branch or etc.) I can get a long, long way out of kilter and not realise it.

I hate the results, and so work on it consciously, among other things, glancing at the horizon first to decide how close to level it should be in the picture, then mentally measuring off the angular distance from the horizon to one of the focus-point marks on the left of the VF, then to the equivalent mark on the right. That works OK. But I'd still give my left unmentionable for a viewfinder with a built-in spirit level!

Second, yes, I do think it matters.

Third, the sloping landscape dilemma. Yup, getting it right can look wrong. I think the answer is that with a sloping horizon you need to think about it in advance and do something to make sure that, in the final result, the horizon is going to be obviously correct - i.e., find something in your composition to make people see something other than the sloping horizon: either provide a vertical reference (such as a tree or a building) somewhere fairly obvious in the picture, or else do something else so that the eye is drawn to the point of interest and the horizon is just accepted unconsciously. In fact, if you are not doing this second thing, then maybe your picture doesn't have enough interest in it to be a keeper anyway.

Tannin
11-05-06, 11:51
PS: Adey's picture, I think, needs the tree to be off-centre before it will work. I'd prefer the tree on the right as that is the downhill side

Stephen
11-05-06, 12:02
PS: Adey's picture, I think, needs the tree to be off-centre before it will work. I'd prefer the tree on the right as that is the downhill side

HeHe, I didn't like to mention that, especially as I realised it was only being used to illustrate the point

Adey Baker
11-05-06, 12:10
My shot is full-frame and as Tannin says it could probably do with the tree being off-centre. Left of centre would be best but you can probably see a twig just in the right of the frame that is the outermost part of a closer tree which prevented such a composition. The shot was with a telephoto through a gap and the only other composition really open to me was vertical, which I didn't like.

It's probably a bit of a clichéd shot but I was drawn to the single 'lonely' tree surrounded by yellow. However, without any uprights to give a reference to the horizon, I thought it hadn't worked properly so I didn't put in in the gallery.

It's a good starting point for this thread, though, isn't it!

Adey Baker
11-05-06, 12:14
...oh, and a nice blue sky to off-set the opposite colour of yellow would have been nice, as well!

yelvertoft
11-05-06, 12:50
Interesting question. I'd say there are no real hard and fast rules here, it all depends on what the photographer intends to convey. The important point is to think about what you are doing. Look at what you really see in the viewfinder and decide if it is what you want to convey.

As has been discussed, there are times when the horizon isn't really level, in most cases, I would keep the horizon true to its natural form. I would (hopefully) consider the alternatives and maybe experiment with different options, there's nothing to be lost by trying after all.

The only time I would say that a non-level horizon doesn't work at all, would be a seascape. The sea on the tilt really doesn't look right, for this type of pic I'd say a level horizon is essential. For landscapes I'd say go with what feels right for the particular shot you are taking; I tend to stick with reality for these pics.

Duncan

Tannin
11-05-06, 13:56
(Didn't mean to criticise your shot, Adey - indeed, I think it is an excellent example as a basis for discussion.)

Yelvertoft brings to mind another point: I have a shot I really like of a land/seascape (an estuary actually) and it's out of true, quite noticably so. My usual graphics editor allows me to rotate to correct that, and crop to suit, but - and here is my point - I can rotate by any given number of degrees, and 3 degrees is too much but 2 degrees isn't enough. Drives me nuts!

Excuse me: here is my point: at least with some pictures, the orientation has to be exactly right, and it is very surprising how small a difference the eye picks up on.

Tannin
11-05-06, 14:07
Here is what I mean: the original shot, then same shot rotated by 2 degrees (too far) and 1 degree (not quite far enough).

And guess what? I just discovered that the ever-excellent PMView is perfectly happy to rotate by (e.g.) 1.4 degrees, you just have to type the number in. So I'll go back and reprocess that picture of the Huon Estuary in Tasmania now.

Meanwhile, I think the visual obviousness of those tiny differences in rotation is worth posting.

(PS: I didn't trouble to crop any of them just so ... Like Adey's shot, therse are just examples, not gallery material - though I happen to really like that scene and have it in my wallpaper folder of favourite shots.

John
11-05-06, 14:41
Tannin,

Hope you don't mind me using your image (example 1)

Is this horizon level enough for you? It was done automatically in Photoshop using the measure tool, then rotate image/arbitary.

John

Tannin
11-05-06, 14:44
Not at all John. I probably should use Photoshop more often, but I confess that I hate the damn thing. So horribly slow and clumsy and a dreadful user interface - I unly resort to Photoshop when I can't think of any more pleasant and practical way to do things - which is no doubt why I'm not much good at it!

Canis Vulpes
11-05-06, 14:45
Tannin,

Hope you don't mind me using your image (example 1)

Is this horizon level enough for you? It was done automatically in Photoshop using the measure tool, then rotate image/arbitary.

John

The measure tool is probably the fastest way to level a shot but always use at 100% zoom and check by viewing with the grid displayed afterward to be sure.

Tannin
11-05-06, 14:47
Oh, and it's almost level .... or maybe I'm just getting tricked by a little pincushion distortion and over-sensitive about the horizon in that particular shot, as I'm so fond of it and spent quite a while being bugged by it.

It was taken several cameras ago, with one of my old Nikon Coiolpix 4500s, hence the tendency to distort one way wide and the other way long.

Stephen
11-05-06, 15:25
I was probably being somewhat disingenuous with my original post but I am glad it has generated some interest and overall agreement about the need for level horizons when they are meant to be level.

The fact is that last night I was looking at the Recent photos on the gallery and was amazed to see pictures with tilted horizons. It was still there this morning, but I then looked back at well known users here and sure enough there were more. It makes me wonder just how people can do this, when surely it is patently obvious that photographically, nay by the laws of nature, wrong :)

The thing is, it seems to me, the vast majority of images posted in the gallery are of birds, (shouldn't they be on the bird forum ;) ) insects, flowers, wildlife and so on. Level horizons are usually not an issue with such shots and perhaps people forget when it becomes one. As has been said here already it is easy to correct in the software, not to mention making the photos look better.

I find sometimes it is difficult to know if a pic is definately level especially when using wide angle lenses, especially when there is little in the way of reference points within the image. In response to Adeys request for blue sky against the yellow field, HERES (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v119/SteveAnstey/field_and_sky.jpg) a shot taken a couple of years ago. I think its level ;)

prostie1200
11-05-06, 15:49
Thats Some Sky! and Yellow field, a Super photograph Stephen and from where I am sitting the Horizon is Level:D

yelvertoft
11-05-06, 16:04
I can rotate by any given number of degrees, and 3 degrees is too much but 2 degrees isn't enough. Drives me nuts!

Excuse me: here is my point: at least with some pictures, the orientation has to be exactly right, and it is very surprising how small a difference the eye picks up on.

Tony,
Glad you found the tool allows you to rotate in fractions of a degree, i suffered the same angst until I found this out. It is surprising how small an angle makes a difference. I often tweak things by 0.5 degree and am shocked by how far this is.

As for using the assorted tools and grids, there are times when aligning the "horizon" to a perfect reference doesn't look right to my eyes. A lot depends on the overall perspective of the scene. That's my excuse for some of my sloppier shots anyway, and I'm sticking to it. :D

D.

Ian
11-05-06, 16:26
Duncan you should insert more lamp-post's for reference!!!
Ian

John
11-05-06, 19:58
The measure tool is probably the fastest way to level a shot but always use at 100% zoom and check by viewing with the grid displayed afterward to be sure.


Thanks for that extra tip.

John

Gidders
11-05-06, 21:35
As for using the assorted tools and grids, there are times when aligning the "horizon" to a perfect reference doesn't look right to my eyes.

It a bit like a tip someone gave me years ago for hanging radiators in older houses - you can either hang them so the top is horizontal, or so that the top is paralell to the window sill. The first will be right but the second will look right :confused:

Don Hoey
11-05-06, 22:31
In the days of film and interchangeable focussing screens, I always used a grid screen, luckily the D100 has this as an electronic switchable feature, and mine is permenantly on.

BTW Superb picture Stephen, wonderful contrast between the rape seed and the sky.

Don

Stephen
11-05-06, 22:39
Thanks Don, much appreciated.

As someone said earlier, I'm suprised no one appears to have to come up with an electronic spirit level in the viewfinder. How difficult would it be these days?

Don Hoey
12-05-06, 11:09
As someone said earlier, I'm suprised no one appears to have to come up with an electronic spirit level in the viewfinder. How difficult would it be these days?

This got me thinking. I seem to recall Hamma or Kaiser making a hotshoe mounted spirit level. A quick check on Wh/E site shows that someone still does. They have a 2 axis level so I would guess they are quite widely available.

How to correct in Photoshop will be of interest to those who use fluid heads, as these are limited to 2 axis movement, and getting level horizons is more problematical.

But this begs a question. I am sure that in my earlier readings in Jpeg v RAW that rotating jpegs in 90 degree increments is lossless but not so for any in between rotation. Cannot find the link to that info now.

Don

Stephen
12-05-06, 11:26
This got me thinking. I seem to recall Hamma or Kaiser making a hotshoe mounted spirit level. A quick check on Wh/E site shows that someone still does. They have a 2 axis level so I would guess they are quite widely available.

This is no good though unless the camera is tripod mounted.

How to correct in Photoshop will be of interest to those who use fluid heads, as these are limited to 2 axis movement, and getting level horizons is more problematical.

I would say that if you have PS or any other decent editing prog, knowing how to correct sloping horizons, converging verticals etc is an essential must know skill, and one of the more basic skills needed by the digital photographer.

But this begs a question. I am sure that in my earlier readings in Jpeg v RAW that rotating jpegs in 90 degree increments is lossless but not so for any in between rotation. Cannot find the link to that info now.


I'm not sure this is the case in PS, however if you find this of concern you could always convert to TIFF first.

Tannin
12-05-06, 12:42
I am sure that in my earlier readings in Jpeg v RAW that rotating jpegs in 90 degree increments is lossless but not so for any in between rotation.

As I understand the mathematics of it, Don, rotating any format by any amount other than 90 or 180 degrees cannot be lossless doesn't matter if we are considering JPG, RAW, TIFF, PNG, PSD, or even BMP. This is because all formats relevant to our discussion store images as a rectangular collection of dots of particular colours.

If you rotate by 90 degrees, all the software has to do is move the dots around to new positions, keeping every dot exactly the same as it was before, just putting it in a new position.

But if you rotate by any other angle, the software has to interpolate - i.e., guess at - the colour to assign to each of the new dots. The "new dot" doesn't line up exactly with any of the "old dots" so the software takes a weighted average of the old dots that surround the position of the new dot. Obviously, the result involves some loss of quality.

There is no difference between doing this with a JPG or TIFF or any other raster graphics format.

Note, however, that the other differences between different file formats still apply: i.e., BMPs remain accurate across generations but huge and clumsy, JPGs drop quality with successive generations (if you are silly enough to use JPG for multiple iterations instead of converting to BMP or TIFF, manipulating, and converting back), and so on.