The horizon can be quite an effective aspect of a photograph and in some cases in may simply go unnoticed by the viewer.
Most people prefer to have it add something to a photo, but to do so it needs to be properly positioned in the composition.
If it isn’t place properly it could even compete with other areas of the scene.
Most photographers believe the horizon should be positioned close to a ‘third’ in the composition rather than in the middle of the frame. More about the Rule of Thirds in Photography Composition can be found here.
But like most photography rules, there are some occasions when this rule can be ignored.
Here are a few tips that may help you out when deciding where to place the horizon in your shot.
Photo by Adib Roy
Photo by Mahmud Farooque
If you want to bring attention to a dramatic sky you can place the horizon towards the lower section of the composition.
When it’s positioned near the bottom, the upper part of the scene will be the most dominant. If there’s nothing of interest above the horizon though, such as a completely clear sky, you may want to avoid this as more than half of your photo will feature an empty sky and it won’t keep the viewer interested for too long.
Photo by Rupert Ganzer
When you compose the horizon towards the top of your image it will result in the lower portion of the photo being the most dominant.
This will enable you to emphasize the detail in the foreground. If the sky is empty and the foreground is interesting then the high horizon is your best bet.
With a low and high horizon be aware that if the camera is tilted backwards or forwards in an attempt to adjust the positioning of the horizon, vertical lines at the edge of the scene could be distorted. These could be items such as buildings and trees. They could lean out of or into the frame and if they do you may need to correct it in post processing.
Photo by jimmedia
Placing the horizon in the center of the scene can balance out a photography composition.
If you can place the horizon dead in the middle it will work better than placing it slightly below or above the center of the frame.
Centered horizons are generally effective if you’re photographing a reflection.
The scene will be divided in half by the position of the horizon so it’s a good idea to capture something which breaks the line of the horizon from the land to the sky. This will produce a relationship between both of the image’s halves. When this is done you’ll be able to tell the foreground and sky are linked instead of appearing to be two separate and distinct elements.
Omit the horizon
Photo by Barbara
Don’t forget you can capture an excellent image without the horizon.
If the sky isn’t interesting enough to add something to the photo you may want to omit it altogether and focus solely on the landscape.
We hope you enjoyed these tips on how to compose a great horizon in your photograph. Now that you’re finished reading, leave a comment below telling us which tip was your favorite and share any experiences you’ve had taking these types of photos.
Then, check out our related posts to learn even more ways to improve your photography.