A STRAIGHT HORIZON LINE CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE
This is an issue I had with some of my work. I look back now at my early photos and see many images with great potential that leave me feeling a bit off kilter. UGH! If you want an easy way to improve your landscape photography, straighten things out and ensure that people are focused on the beauty of your image and not on a crooked horizon line.
There are two ways to do this; either avoid the problem by getting it right in camera or fix it later in post processing.
GET IT RIGHT IN CAMERA
Some would argue that it’s easiest to start by getting it right in camera. Many of today’s cameras have a menu function that overlays a “level” right in your viewfinder. On my Nikon, I will often set up the shot and then before I start snapping I quickly flip to “live view” which places a funky flight simulator type level meter on top of my rear view screen and lights up green when I have got things level. Check out your camera’s capabilities in the manual or do a quick google search online… I would bet many have this feature buried someplace in the menus.
If for some reason your camera doesn’t have this feature, you could pick up one of those nifty little green cubes (link) which fit into the hot shoe on the top of your camera. They work just like a traditional level - line the little bubble up between the lines and you are good to go. These little gadgets are generally not expensive and they look intriguing which has the added benefit of being a great conversation starter.
If neither of these suggestions will work for you then I recommend that you just be aware of the issue as you prepare to take the shot. Take a few extra seconds to scan for the horizon line in your viewfinder and see if it looks straight. If you are shooting on a tripod (which I recommend for landscapes) then sometimes a small tweak will do it. If you are hand holding the camera sometimes it’s just a matter of adjusting your stance and shifting your weight more evenly.
USE POST PROCESSING
But maybe you don’t have either of these tools and/or time and are stuck with a great shot that lists to one side. No problem. Most importing and processing software gives you the ability to straighten things out - either by your own hand within the cropping or rotating tool or automatically, so be sure to take advantage of it. In my own workflow, straightening the horizon line is one of the first items on my initial processing checklist which I do in Lightroom. Yes - it's still an issue for me a fair bit.
ADD STRAIGHTENING TO YOUR WORK FLOW
Of course there are lots of times when a skewed horizon line is chosen on purpose for artistic effect and that’s great. But if that’s not your intention, then give this simple tip a try. Add straightening the horizon line to your photography workflow. I guarantee that ensuring your images have a straight horizon line will help you keep your audience focused on the beauty you were trying to show instead of wondering why they feel slightly seasick.
Hope this helps. Keep it on the straight and have fun out there friends!