Tip #97: Keep a Level Head

In Flight (Grus canadensis) - Crex Meadows Wildlife Refuge, WI
Canon 7D + Canon 100-400L f4.5-5.6 IS
Bad puns deserve loud groans, but slanting horizons really drive me nuts. When film was king, photographers worked more purposefully because every image had a cost and laziness became lesson in economics. Sloppy technique at a pinnacle moment detracts from an otherwise perfect moment and causes your audience to question the laws of physics. I can't stand seeing birds and boats paddling up some fictitious aquatic hill. The cure for this ailment is a quick fix, and your choices are quite simple.

  1. Use a sturdy tripod, a quality head and a bubble (or in camera) level. Frame your landscape, step back for a moment to clear your preconceived vision, and give the image a second look. Find an anchor on which to level your horizon and only then make the shot.
  2. No time to level in camera, then level it during the post process edit. Every image editor has a leveling tool. While some are quicker than others, there is no excuse to share an image with a blown horizon. 
In photography, it is often said, you are judged by weakest image in your folio. Like bad grammar and the tendency to lie, blown horizons may define you to your audience in ways that will be hard to change.  
Before Sunrise - St. Croix River, MN
Canon 5D mark II + Canon 24mm f3.5L TSE

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