Let's learn about horizon lines! First off, what not to do....

Feeling a bit woozy? We are! Nothing makes us not love a photo faster than a wonky horizon line! Film makers actually use wonky horizon lines in horror movies to make the viewer feel uncomfortable and nervous, there is even a fancy term for it - Dutch Angles. So now we know not to use Dutch Angles, lets talk about what is awesome about a nice straight horizon line…

Having a straight horizon line lets you know that everything is right in the world. The viewer feels all comfy and balanced, and they will hang out looking at your photo a lot longer. Even a slightly off horizon line can make the photo feel a little bit off kilter. 

Once you know to look out for your horizon lines being straight it becomes second nature, and with the grid turned on on your phone it becomes easy to do. Even so, it’s a bit tricky to get things exactly straight every time, the first thing we do when we are editing a photo is straighten the horizon, sometimes it’s as little as 0.2° (we will show you how to do this in the Afterlight Editing Lesson)

As well as keeping your horizon lines nice and straight, when you are shooting straight on to a scene, make sure you really are dead in front of what you are shooting. This means that all the lines will be as straight as they can be, and your angles will be as square as possible. Even a step or two in either direction can throw things off. A good example of how ace being straight on is in the photo above. Kate saw that amazing tree coming up when she was driving down the road, and pulled the car over to where she thought was right in front of the tree, but actually she was 50 metres short. So she walked forward that 50 metres until the horizontal and vertical line were both nice and straight and there was a 90° angle between them. This made the photo calmer and more peaceful than if she had just made do with being slightly off in the first spot she stopped… Ahhhh.

The above photo is another example of a photo that wouldn’t have worked at all if Peta hadn’t been straight on to the scene. The photo is all about those straight lines in the shelves, even a step or two in each direction would have meant some of those lines would have been slightly wonky. Notice that the line where the table meets the wall is all nice and straight too.

The Friendly Grocer photo is a good example of what a difference even a slightly wonky horizon line would have made to the scene. How much more calming and lovely is it having everything nice and straight?


Homework Time

Photograph some nice straight horizontal lines. Also keep in mind what you have learnt in the previous metering sessions, don't throw that knowledge out with the excitement of straight lines!