Where to place the horizon line

JJWP346Unless its a skyline of jagged peaks and mountains in a land-locked scene, your horizon won’t be a straight line. But if those mountains meet the sea in the distance, that meeting point will usually be a straight narrow line. We encounter these horizons during nature shoots – landscapes, seascapes, vistas, sunsets and sunrises. Now when framing, where do you place the horizon line? Should it be in the upper portion or lower portion? It depends on what you are going to highlight. If your subject is in the foreground, your horizon line will naturally be higher as you’ll be focusing on subjects down below, nearer you.  If your subject is the sky or in the sky or up in the clouds, you’ll be pointing up and your horizon line be at the lower portion of the frame. What if your horizon line cuts across the middle of the frame. Others consider this a no-no. It just doesn’t follow through with the rules of composition. But heck, what are rules anyway? If the mountains in our example cast an interesting reflection on the sea, oh shoot to your heart’s content with the line in the middle. You are shooting for what is appealing, interesting and captivating; not for any rules. In the picture, my main subject is the man rowing his boat. I could capture him whole by zooming in, but I wanted also to include the subtle rays of the sun during that late afternoon so I pointed up a little. Which is why the horizon line placed lower from the middle portion, and it was okay since I had nothing to include in the foreground as it was all water. What was important was my main subject against an enchanting backdrop. And another thing, keep your horizon line level. Unless, for whatever effect and purpose you have in my mind, you want it tilted to one side. More on this topic from our mainstay photography instructor Darren Rowse with his write up Getting Horizons Horizontal.


5 responses

  1. The Rule of Thirds is there to be broken! 🙂

    January 22, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    • Junsjazz

      Hehe. right you are Richard…there are rules and there are no rules…btw, the digital magazine will be online tomorrow…here’s a toast! 🙂

      January 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      • Woo-hoo! 🙂

        January 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

  2. sjophotography

    Great post i like this.

    January 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    • Junsjazz

      Thanks always Shannon!

      January 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm

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