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  #1  
Old January 15th, 2012, 02:14 PM
Tom Robbins Tom Robbins is offline
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Default Centered Horizons


Windblown

Centered horizons are most often acceptable, as a rule, when a scene includes water which reflects the upper half. This is probably sound compositional advice, yet my experience with tilt and shift lenses during the last couple of years, particularly when vertical elements should remain vertical, has created some doubts about its validity.

Frank Gohlke wrote, in a 1993 essay, "Holding the camera level while standing in a flat landscape means that the horizon cuts the middle of the picture and divides it into equal portions of earth and sky. I gradually became aware that the bisected frame was for me emblematic of that landscape, with sky and earth in a dynamic equilibrium and human beings in the middle, exploiting both and being dominated by both."

Anyone here care to offer their thoughts on this? If it's a non-issue, that's OK. Just figured I'd kick the pebble into the pond.
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  #2  
Old January 15th, 2012, 04:20 PM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Robbins View Post
Anyone here care to offer their thoughts on this? If it's a non-issue, that's OK. Just figured I'd kick the pebble into the pond.
Hi Tom,

Especially when using a (Tilt and) Shift lens, let the composition dictate where you place the horizon.

With that I mean that either the sky (due to it having interesting cloud structures or because you want it to counteract the below horizon area in some way), or the below horizon area is the main building block of your composition. When the below horizon area has interesting structures, you might want to emphasize them by using a shorter focal length and getting closer.

Cheers,
Bart
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  #3  
Old January 15th, 2012, 08:46 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Windblown

Tom,

Here, one can gain much more energy in the picture by discarding most of the sky, save 0.75 cm to 2.0 cm or so. All the content, ideas and playground for the mind are below the horizon. Now add a flock of birds and then it could be different.

Asher
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  #4  
Old January 16th, 2012, 01:11 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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It's your vision, screw what the rules say. As Asher mentions the picture would become more dynamic by cropping out the sky but as it stands now it gives a feel of serenity, that is the emotion I respond to it with. If that was your message then the composition works for what you envisaged. A dynamic crop would not achieve that goal.

Yes usually the horizon should not be in the centre, in this image, especially with the path leading into the horizon the entire composition takes me, leads me to the centre of the image, the the horizon via the path. The way you have led the eye is perfect for the composition here where you have left the horizon in the centre.

So we have a correct composition for both the geometory of the image and the feel of the image. This leads us to one inevitable conclusion. The rules are only guidelines to be broken by those who have the vision to see beyond their restrictions.

(from an unreformed compositional rule breaker)
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  #5  
Old January 16th, 2012, 01:17 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Robbins View Post

Windblown
I think that the reason why a centered horizon works for this picture is because the bottom perspective is centered itself with two lines converging left and right towards the center.
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  #6  
Old January 16th, 2012, 02:46 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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I would like someone to post an image with a centered horizon and which they believe does not work.

Indicating why it does not work, shall also be invaluable for me.

Regards.
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  #7  
Old January 16th, 2012, 03:50 AM
Murray Foote Murray Foote is offline
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I think the interesting thing about this image is not just as Ben says that there are leading lines converging at the centre of the image but that those leading lines are symmetrical. Furthermore they did not intuitively appear to me to be symmetrical, I thought there was more space out to the left but it is not in fact the case.

While I would normally agree with Asher's suggestion to crop the sky down, I think in this case it compromises the tonal gradation.

So I think this image works with a central horizon not because it has that, but because the elements of the composition combine to support that.
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Old January 16th, 2012, 05:58 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Robbins View Post

Windblown

Centered horizons are most often acceptable, as a rule, when a scene includes water which reflects the upper half. This is probably sound compositional advice, yet my experience with tilt and shift lenses during the last couple of years, particularly when vertical elements should remain vertical, has created some doubts about its validity.
I think it's all a matter of weighting of parts of the composition. If the horizon is centered, then we might expect some balance around that line. I find it unacceptable to start of with the rule that the horizon should not be central. After all , we do not know what weight each part has in significance and draw of the eye or whether the sky balances the earth or relieves it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Robbins View Post
[Frank Gohlke wrote, in a 1993 essay, "Holding the camera level while standing in a flat landscape means that the horizon cuts the middle of the picture and divides it into equal portions of earth and sky. I gradually became aware that the bisected frame was for me emblematic of that landscape, with sky and earth in a dynamic equilibrium and human beings in the middle, exploiting both and being dominated by both."

Anyone here care to offer their thoughts on this? If it's a non-issue, that's OK. Just figured I'd kick the pebble into the pond.
Well, holding a camera level while standing on a flat landscape only cuts the picture in the middle depending on how high one's tripod is. Generalizations do not inform the particular.

Asher
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  #9  
Old January 16th, 2012, 09:36 AM
Helene Anderson Helene Anderson is offline
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If this were Facebook I'd be clicking on "I like" and I don't normally go for landscapes but as suggested, there is serenity here, it is calming.
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  #10  
Old January 16th, 2012, 01:28 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Hi Tom,

I like it as is and wouldn't crop the sky. No reason to worry about the horizon being in the middle IMO.
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  #11  
Old January 16th, 2012, 01:43 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
Hi Tom,

I like it as is and wouldn't crop the sky. No reason to worry about the horizon being in the middle IMO.
Cem,

Tom has proposed analysis of the nature of centered horizons. Otherwise, I wouldn't want to change his finished work. However, if one is asking, as he is, how it all works, then here, IMHO, it doesn't work well. Why not?

I'd argue that the material in the sky is inconsequential in its present development. If the color and tone gradients were more important, then that weight would change my point of view. Do I need it changed? no, of course not, if it's Tom's finished work. However if one asks, "Does the real estate allocated to the sky do anything much for the picture?", the answer to me is, "No much at all!"

Having said that I'm not in favor or proscribing against having central horizons, faces or rods going through the head. Such rules can be justified but don't inform the artist on any individual choice.

Asher
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  #12  
Old January 16th, 2012, 02:23 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Cem,

Tom has proposed analysis of the nature of centered horizons. Otherwise, I wouldn't want to change his finished work. However, if one is asking, as he is, how it all works, then here, IMHO, it doesn't work well. Why not?

I'd argue that the material in the sky is inconsequential in its present development. If the color and tone gradients were more important, then that weight would change my point of view. Do I need it changed? no, of course not, if it's Tom's finished work. However if one asks, "Does the real estate allocated to the sky do anything much for the picture?", the answer to me is, "No much at all!"

Having said that I'm not in favor or proscribing against having central horizons, faces or rods going through the head. Such rules can be justified but don't inform the artist on any individual choice.

Asher
Asher you got me all wrong I'm afraid. I didn't say that I would not crop because this would be Tom's finished work. I actually disagree with your analysis regarding the added value of the sky. Because I think that it adds value and it balances the picture. Imho, it works well. So we disagree, which is quite OK. :)
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  #13  
Old January 16th, 2012, 02:45 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
Asher you got me all wrong I'm afraid. I didn't say that I would not crop because this would be Tom's finished work. I actually disagree with your analysis regarding the added value of the sky. Because I think that it adds value and it balances the picture. Imho, it works well. So we disagree, which is quite OK. :)
It's also important, as it shows that we do not have gurus here!

Asher
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  #14  
Old January 17th, 2012, 08:06 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
It's also important, as it shows that we do not have gurus here!

Asher
How dare you! I demand to be called a guru!

Oh sorry, got that mixed up, I think I meant 'geek'!

:-P
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  #15  
Old January 17th, 2012, 01:24 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
How dare you! I demand to be called a guru!

Oh sorry, got that mixed up, I think I meant 'geek'!

:-P

No Guru, no method, no teacher...
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  #16  
Old January 17th, 2012, 01:46 PM
Mark Hampton Mark Hampton is offline
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it's a strange visual phenomena the old horizon...


a division between light and
dark
solid and
air
ground and
sky


and none of them at the same time

like the end of a rainbow !










.
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  #17  
Old January 17th, 2012, 02:35 PM
Tom Robbins Tom Robbins is offline
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Folks,

Thank you very much for your thoughts. I knew this was the place to post the question, and the carefully considered responses cut to the chase at many levels.

Photography endeavors became more complicated during the last couple years when the 45mm and 90mm Canon tilt/shift lenses became part of my optical kit. The options to tilt, shift, and swing complicated what was previously a straightforward endeavor.

My question about the centered horizons was due to recent usage of horizontal shift to create panoramas. Tilting the camera body up or down requires shifting the lens up or down to compensate. However, shifting a 35mm ts lens up or down and sideways at the same time cannot be done, to my knowledge. So, panning to create a panorama requires a centered horizon. Perhaps I might just have to save up for a pan head.

A centered horizon is generally considered to be not a good thing, and that's why I included Frank Gohlke's thoughts on the subject.

This particular image works for me because the morning sky was part of the subject. The sun was 20 minutes away from making its appearance. The vague clouds at the upper right hand corner almost work with the fence line, or maybe not.

At any rate, thank you all for the thoughtful responses, and my apologies for the vague nature of the original question.
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  #18  
Old January 17th, 2012, 08:31 PM
Ruben Alfu Ruben Alfu is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Robbins View Post
My question about the centered horizons was due to recent usage of horizontal shift to create panoramas. Tilting the camera body up or down requires shifting the lens up or down to compensate. However, shifting a 35mm ts lens up or down and sideways at the same time cannot be done, to my knowledge. So, panning to create a panorama requires a centered horizon. Perhaps I might just have to save up for a pan head.
Hi Tom,

I know very little about panoramas technique but I think this is one of the most reasonable concerns about centered horizons that I've heard. Being stuck in certain kind of compositions because of some technical limitation is not good, but then we can argue that such a limitation could become part of a style or signature, why not? I have the impression that in panoramas content beats composition.

By the way, love your Windblown photo!


@ Mark: Are you a Rothko fan? :) Great photo.


Regards,

Ruben
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Old January 17th, 2012, 11:17 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Robbins View Post
Perhaps I might just have to save up for a pan head.
From personal experience: when everything is far away as is the case in the presented panorama pictures here, pictures taken handheld stitch perfectly...
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  #20  
Old January 18th, 2012, 05:59 AM
Mark Hampton Mark Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruben Alfu View Post


@ Mark: Are you a Rothko fan? :) Great photo.


Regards,

Ruben
Ruben - yes loved seeing his work - always better in the flesh. Interestingly in some of his images he uses 2 or 4 horizons - some are vertical. thanks for the comment on the work - I would say this is a 2 horizon work.

cheers
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  #21  
Old January 18th, 2012, 06:00 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Here is an example of a composition built up using the same elements as in Tom's picture.






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  #22  
Old January 18th, 2012, 11:44 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
Here is an example of a composition built up using the same elements as in Tom's picture.







The picture is good, but I prefer it when the people are a bit bigger. You could crop the center a bit.
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  #23  
Old January 18th, 2012, 01:53 PM
Charles L Webster Charles L Webster is offline
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Default Centered horizon

This has a centered horizon, though it's not immediately apparent. But, it is far from symmetrical.

I think some of the sky could have been cropped, but not enough to bring the horizon up to the "thirds" line. A certain amount of the gray sky is necessary for the feeling.



Boardwalk
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  #24  
Old January 18th, 2012, 02:06 PM
Tom Robbins Tom Robbins is offline
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Jerome, you are right about the diminishing importance of the nodal point with distant subjects. I will keep this in mind next time the situation arises and will simply pan the head with reasonable overlap between exposures.

Cem, marvelous photo! The pavement, the tiles, the overhead lights, the shape of the environment, and those ghostly concentric rings draw the eye into the frame. Wonderful, wonderful.

Asher, I owe you and your tech folks an apology for disparaging the color of linked images. It was cockpit error entirely, and I now know how to avoid it.

Another centered horizon, this one taken a couple months ago in Eastern Iowa:


Bales by the Moquoketa

The inspiration for the centered horizon is the same as that for the previous photo. The land has evidence of lines created by man, while the sky has striations created by nature. In between the two is the Moquoketa River and a hint of the river road following the Mississippi River. I love this area.

This aint the Grand Canyon or Niagra Falls, but there is something about the place...
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  #25  
Old January 19th, 2012, 01:41 PM
Tom Robbins Tom Robbins is offline
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View from Morrison Cemetary
Another one, this from the Northwest corner of Illinois.
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  #26  
Old January 19th, 2012, 01:56 PM
Tom Robbins Tom Robbins is offline
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Weber Farm
Stop me, someone.
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Old January 19th, 2012, 02:02 PM
Ruben Alfu Ruben Alfu is offline
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Tom,

These are remarkable landscapes, a real pleasure to see. The light in "View from Morrison Cemetary" is so delicate and adds a beautiful dimension to the scene.

Regards,

Ruben

P.D. Just after posting I saw "Weber Farm", fantastic!
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  #28  
Old January 19th, 2012, 02:10 PM
Tom Robbins Tom Robbins is offline
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Thank you Ruben!


Rusty Barn

A local icon that vanished this summer after a storm. It was an abandoned relic for years.
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  #29  
Old January 19th, 2012, 02:16 PM
Tom Robbins Tom Robbins is offline
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Furrows

OK, the horizon is a bit tilted here due to terrain, but it is still pretty centered, I'd say.

Western Illinois
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  #30  
Old January 19th, 2012, 02:21 PM
Tom Robbins Tom Robbins is offline
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Blanding's Landing

A narrow strip of land along the Mississippi River.
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