Positioning the horizon

Positioning the horizon


For this exercise I was asked to take six photographs to exhibit how important the positioning of the horizon is when composing an image. I chose a cityscape which I shot from Nottingham castle overlooking the city. This was my subject of choice because of the relatively interesting foreground and the clear horizon. All of the following images were taken with a shutter speed of 1/125s, an aperture of f/10, an ISO of 100 and an 18mm focal length; I also used a graduated neutral density filter to keep the sky and the land as evenly exposed as possible. I have numbered the images 1 – 6 starting with the lowest horizon first.


Image 1

With the horizon positioned at the very lower part of the frame, this image lacks any distinction, this is also aided by the deficiency of interest in the sky


Image 2

This image is better than the previous; however, the subject matter in the foreground is cut off and there is still too much emphasis on the sky.


Image 3

Perhaps if the horizon was placed slightly lower in this image it would work better as it would adhere to the ‘rule-of-thirds’. I think that the horizon is too central and thus stagnant.


Image 4

I like this image and the next image the best, although for different reasons. I can’t really decide which one prevails in terms of technique and aesthetics. This photograph works well because, again, it closely follows the ‘rule-of-thirds’. There is enough foreground interest to provide a satisfactory image.


Image 5

I think the reason that I like this image is because of the fact that it has three planes: the foreground, the mid-ground and the sky; this adds depth. The horizons in the previous images were placed in such a way that the foreground was not in the frame, I think this is one of the reasons that the previous images lacked interest.


Image 6

This image also includes the three planes but the positioning of the horizon has made this image less appealing, it is not totally uninteresting but I think that some more sky would have added some drama.



I think that because this exercise required a simple and only relatively interesting scene, this method can be practised in its purist form. If the scene would have had more compositional elements from which to compose the photograph, perhaps it would have told a different story. This exercise has definitely helped me to consider my options when shooting simple landscapes.


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