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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Positioning the horizon

This exercise was to explore positioning the horizon of the scene at different heights and how this effect divisions within the frame.


I shot in the mid/late afternoon on some common ground. The weather was windy and cold with heavy intermittent clouds that provided quite a flat diffused light with occasional bright spots (note some of the images contain sun flare). I used a tripod and set a focal length of 28mm throughout the exercise and an ISO of 100. I took the shots in aperture priority (using a small aperture of f/27 and letting the camera work on the shutter speeds for the exposure.

Something that caused issue on the shoot was ‘exposure’ Shooting landscapes is something I haven’t done too much of and I struggled to get a consistent exposure during shooting. Either the foreground was too dark (shadows) to retain detail in the sky or the sky was blown out (highlights) to retain detail in the foreground. I was aware from reading through the course text that I will cover light and exposure in  more detail later on the course and as this was about the position of the horizon, I decided to experiment a bit more with HDR photography as I did as an additional section in the focal lengths exercise and use them to illustrate the exercise. Just to add the shutter speeds as detailed are metered by the camera for correct exposure, however the images have been merged as HDR and therefore combined with 2 other images at different exposures, so the shutter speeds are not accurate as displayed.


28mm f/27 1/8 sec ISO 100 image1 I put the horizon high in the frame. There is little interest in the foreground for the viewer and the ‘details’ appear all squashed tightly near the top of the frame.  The clouds and sunlight shining through them with the late afternoon reds of the sky and this has little impact on both.


28mm f/27 1/10 sec ISO 100

I’ve dropped the horizon a little more and given more space to the sky and detail. The grass foreground adds some depth but still lacks interest, I still think the interest of the image is the top and although better placed than in image1 and dynamics work better, the lack of detail in the foreground reduces the impact


28mm f/27 1/15 sec ISO 100 I dropped the horizon to the middle of the frame in this shot. Although having the horizon in the centre of the frame creates a more static composition, now that there is less of the plain foreground in view it feels more balanced, I like that more of the detailed sky is in the frame.


28mm f/27 1/15 sec ISO 100

Dropping horizon further gives the sky much more prominence to the sky. Because I used a HDR technique the sky has lots of detail and drama, and contrasted with the plain foreground creates a good dynamic between the top and bottom of the frame. I like this image the most and in hindsight I think I could get away with even more sky shown.


28mm f/27 1/20 sec ISO 100

I like this image the best. I like the dynamic balance between foreground and sky, not too much of the featureless foreground but enough to contrast the dramatic sky.


28mm f/27 1/20 sec ISO 100

I dropped the horizon again, however I think too far for my taste. I think image5 suits the scene the best. The sky is the dominant part of the image and although dramatic and interesting I think it needs an little more foreground for it to be successful; it feels out of balance.


28mm f/27 1/45 sec ISO 100

With the horizon almost out of the frame now the image is all about the sky, at this point it probably would be better to remove all trace of the horizon and have an abstract sky image.

Overall I think that Image3 and Image4 work ok for the scene; however, for me image5 would be have been the most dynamic for the scene. The exercise has shown me that although it is normally thought of a ‘centre’ horizon as static, it is not necessarily a poor image and there could be a good reason for placing the horizon in that position (or any other for that matter).

I would say at this time landscape photography is something I have done very little on. I tend towards working in much more controllable conditions, so in that sense it was good to get out and try some more further to my ‘Greenwich Park’ images in the Focal length exercise. I would say it is something that I should practice more. As for the HDR. I hope this isn’t considered a cheat, however if the sky had lacked the detail then the conclusions may well have been different, as the foreground would be the prominent feature; not the sky.

Note to self: Have a look at other photographers works around landscape images for ideas and the consideration of placement of the horizon.

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