Keep your horizons horizontal and you'll save yourself a headache
One of the first lessons of photography – especially landscape photography – is that you should always check your horizons are actually horizontal – and for good reason: the human brain is incredibly good at spotting even the slightest wonkiness in a photograph – being out by one or two degrees is enough to ruin an otherwise pleasing image. In the era of digital photography this advice is often given less forcefully because it's so easy to rotate an image and straighten up a horizon using your computer.
But there are two very good reasons why you should aim to get your horizons straight in the first place:
- Rotating a digital photograph by even one degree will result in a small degradation in image quality, with the loss of some fine detail. If you've paid good money for a high resolution FinePix camera and done everything you can to maximise quality, it's a pity to throw some of it away for the sake of getting your picture straight in the first place!
- Rotating an image always results in some cropping, meaning not only are you losing some of the edge of the frame, you're throwing pixels away too!
How to ensure your horizons are straight
The most obvious answer is to look at the on-screen preview image properly before you press the shutter. It's remarkably easy to shoot an image with a wonky horizon, and some people seem more prone to it than others. If you do find you your landscapes come out wonky get into the practice of taking a couple of seconds to check every time you take a snap.
Most FinePix cameras have the option to display a 'grid' overlay on the preview image. Designed to aid composition using the 'rule of thirds', the grid is also perfect for checking your horizon is, in fact, horizontal. The grid is usually accessed by pressing the display button in record mode once or twice (check your manual if you're not sure).
If you have an older FinePix model without the framing guideline option and you suffer from a lot of wonky horizons you might want to consider adding some of your own using a chinagraph pencil.
It doesn't take much of an angle to make a horizon seem hopelessly wonky – this one is just over 1 degree out.
Watch your horizons or you can ruin a winning shot
If – as here – the horizon isn't straight (because of a hill) you still need to keep your camera horizontal – it just takes practice!
Rotating an image using software not only has an impact on quality (some fine detail may be lost), it also means you lose some of the edge of the picture as you have to crop.
Turn on your FinePix camera's framing guidelines by pressing the DISP button and you can use the horizontal lines to make sure everything squares up.
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