PHOTOGRAPHY 101 | Keeping ‘Em Straight

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Alright, since a lot of people (like more than two hehe) has been requesting me to put up a photography section on my blog, I’m finally making one and will be dishing out random bits and pieces of photography tips for the snap-happy travelers in all of us.

The first thing I will tackle is the simplest and easiest rule of shooting landscapes. I’m sure many shooters already know this but I have seen lots and lots and lots of pretty pictures ruined by simply not following this rule.

Okay, the basics says we should always keep the horizon in our photographs leveled; as in not skewed to the left or right. Why you might ask? Most pictures just look better that way; it may be because our eyes always see the horizon as leveled so we associate skewed horizons as being somewhat out of order.

To illustrate the point, let’s look at the photo above. The skewed one just looks downright awkward and amateurish compared to the straight photo, would you agree?

Well, pretty simple right? Well, easy to say, but sometimes our eyes get tricked by elements in our composition (like the clouds below) that tells us the photo is level, but after viewing it on the LCD it is not. The simple solution to this is not Photoshop, but to retake the photo carefully again if there is a chance to. Rotating the image in Photoshop or any editing software will definitely cut away some parts of the photo and we don’t want that, especially if the cropped out part is part of your main composition.

Oftentimes though, we just get carried away in snapping that lovely sunset that we totally forget to straighten that skewed horizon or we’re just having a hard time telling if the horizon’s straight or not.

Most cameras now has a grid feature that you can turn on so that horizontal and vertical guidelines can be seen on the viewfinders or LCD’s of the screen. This is really beneficial for such situations and I make it a point to always use this, like, every time.

Still there are cases when we can’t see the horizon, like the photo below. What we do is base our angle on the supposed ground horizon, in this case the part where the clumps of trees meet the ground. Or if you have something vertical in the image that you know is perfectly in tangent with the horizon (like the walls of the house), you may use that as basis to straighten your photo.

So what happens when the sunset’s done and after viewing the hundreds of photos you’ve taken, all of them are tilted? Fear not, corrections can be still be done using image editing software and you don’t even have to be a Photoshop whiz to do it; even simple editing programs like Picasa has a straightening tool.

And if you’re the type who doesn’t even tinker with a computer, newer camera models have built-in straightening tools that you can use directly on your images inside your camera.
But as I will probably say again and again as this series continues, the best way is to still shoot as straight as possible from the camera itself, always be conscious of your horizon and avoid the hassle of correcting it later.

And that’s it for the first of the series! I’ll be gratified if I helped untilt just even one photograph out there because of this article. Hope you find this useful!

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  1. that is correct!!!
    shoot it straight..
    But I really can't help it sometimes, some lenses tend to curve the horizon when its place on almost top most or side most.
    nice tip Z!
    My best friend for adjusting the horizon is lightroom as I can keep the original dimension of the picture.
    Cropping with grid lines also makes it easier.
    like you said, I also hate loosing a part of the frame.
    keep up with this series!
    It makes it easier for others to understand.
    perhaps I'll share your link when someone should ask me as well about how to do it.. after all, you're better at this. :)

  2. looking forward to more photography tips :D

  3. weeeeeeeeeee. thanks for this Christian! i'll be looking forward to the next sessions ^_^

  4. More please! hahaha! Honestly, now lang ako ulet ngbasa ng buong blog post! thanks for the post Christian! Can't wait for the next... :)

  5. Nice! Sana you make more tutorials since it would benefit bloggers like me na walang pangbayad sa seminar at hindi marunong mag photoshop. Thank you po!

    Please swing by my page too! Could you make a review of my photos in this particular article? I find it hard to take photos at Barbara's because of the lightings. Could you recommend ways on how I could improve my photos at low light environment?

  6. yown. will surely keep this in my mind!

  7. Problem ko din to before, pero natuto na akong gamitin ang gridlines sa camera! Hehehe

    Thanks for the tip, keep it coming! =)

  8. excellent tips! your sunset photo is stunning!

  9. Thanks for this Christian! :) It's very helpful! Looking forward to more photography tips. :)

  10. i love it. Looking forward to read more about your photography tips.

  11. Helpful tips master, hehe. Ako wala lang, point, shoot, upload! Hahaha.

  12. Love the new segment Christian! Pagpatuloy mo toh! haha. then you can compile all of these para ebook. Kahit free download lang after subscribing to your feeds. Pero I'm thinking ahead too much. Anyway, ayos toh kasi very useful and with examples pa! :D

    Agree ako sa shooting them straight. Woohoo!

  13. Thank you. Now I have another reason to visit your blog. :))

  14. Naks! Teacher teacher! gusto ko to! buti naisip mo maglagay ng free photography sessions. Aabangan ko lagi.

  15. Galing!! I remember you commenting on my blog about keeping my horizons straight and I've always remembered that whenever I take pictures of seascapes and landscapes. thanks again! I love the first picture by the way. is that in Manila?

  16. yan ang number one kong problem when i was starting...di ko sya napapansin nung una until may nag point out sa akin. naging isa na tuloy yan sa tinitingnan ko kapag kumukuha ng photos. =)

  17. thanks pre! helpful for me... keep em coming

  18. Great new section. Looking forward to more photography tips from you! Love the second to the last photo.

  19. we'll surely follow this new series! =)

  20. panalo ung unang shot. thanks idol.:)

  21. Kuya, one on one tayo, free tutorial! More please..hehe!

  22. wow photography tutorial!! I love love love photography too, don't have a DSLR though.. yeah a good composition is always the key! keep on posting and I will keep on reading! ;)

  23. That's right, keep 'em coming. Thanks for this. I could use some help with photography.

  24. Next time paid seminars na! Yihii! =D

  25. Looking forward to learning more about photography from you, Master Christian. :)

  26. Very useful and everything is noted. Nothing beats a straight framed photo catch. The first pic wins my heart!

  27. Ian
    No problem, will be sharing more in the future :)

    For curved horizons, lens correction ang katapat nyan :)

    Ding, Astrid, Smarla, Doi, Tina, Bino, Chino, Journeyingjames, MarLiesTravels, Adventurousfeet, Jovial, Josiah, Ian
    Thanks! More tips in the future :)

    Iniisip ko nga rin kung magturo ako ng Photoshop kaso madugo sa screenshots eh :P

    Madali lang yan once you practice it lagi

    Gridlines are the best and easiest way to keep your horizon straight nga :)

    Thanks! :)

    Natgeo? Haha I wish :)

    Haha ikaw nag suggest nyan eh, salamat! :)


    Malditang "Kura"cha
    Thank you ko rin yan for my readers :)

    The Sunset Goddess
    Nice that's good! :)

    Good good, really one of the basics to a good photo to :)

    Thanks! Pero di mo na kelangan nito Kara eh :)

    That was taken years ago, di pa ko nagba blog nyan :)

    Haha one on one? May bayad na yun! :P

    Good composition can be done both on a DSLR and a P&S, parehas lang yun :)

    Haha wish ko lang, di ako magaling magturo sa personal eh :P

  28. orayteee! i think i;m one of those friends who requested this photog 101 series! haha thanks Christian, see patok na patok and we're really learning from you! :)

  29. Wow! I'm very thankful to you, sir Christian. Now, I get to learn some basics and hopefully a bit advance of photography. I'll be watching for your next photography post. You are the man!

    Anyways, I'd like you to know that because I like your blog, I have mentioned your URL on my own latest blog entry entitled World-Class Airport With The Most Reasonably Priced Food. Thanks again for this post and the upcoming ones.

  30. This is definitely helpful... Salamat ng marami Ian! Antayin ko next tip!

  31. thanks for the lesson sensei!! ^_^ looking forward to more photography tips..

  32. Nice pre. Thanks. Some photographers taught me about the art of tilted photos. I do no why. Thanks for the tips.

  33. ...mahusay ka sir! keep it up!!!

  34. this completes the wisdom meaning of "photography" in you, after all, photography is sharing the beauty of God's creation; thanks (& sorry for the late comment)

  35. Thepinaysolobackpacker
    Haha patok nga! Salamat Gael!

    No problem po! :)

    Pasensya na at natatagalang ang next series, backlogged kasi :P

    Haha sensei? :D

    There are pics that can benefit from a tilt, pero bihirang bihira lang :)


    Wow poetic ah! :)