Keep the horizon horizontal

As Scottie once said to Captain Kirk, “You canna break the laws of physics capt’n” and neither, dear reader, can you. One of the most common faults I see with photographs of boats by people with cameras (as opposed to professional photographers) is the horizon. You see the horizon, whether you like it or not, is horizontal and water will always find its own level, so the sea in a photograph should be horizontal.

I say should because the eagled-eyed amongst you will notice that the first page on my home page currently features a shiny blue XSR48, Fabio Buzzi hulled performance production boat, and yes the horizon is slanty, but it’s exaggerated. Which shows that a) I meant to do it and b) it adds drama to the shot. It was also a way of fitting in a long thin pointy boat into the frame to make the images more dynamic.

Next time you’re taking photos of boat, before you press the shutter, make sure the horizon is on an even keel, even if you’re not

The main problem with unintentional slanty horizons is they look wrong. From the time when man walked the plains of Africa, a horizon has always been a solid reference point, start tilting it and boats start sailing up or downhill, things they weren’t designed to do. The thing about boats, sailing boats, in particular, is that there are lots of angles happening, and sometimes that tricks the eye – yes, mine too – that the boat should be straighter, consequently the horizon goes awry. Of course, it’s possible to correct these things afterwards with the wonders of digital, but I find it better to get it right in the camera.

So next time you’re taking photos of boat before you press the shutter, make sure the horizon is on an even keel, even if you’re not.

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