Positioning The Horizon

When photographing a landscape, there are an infinite numbers of positions for the horizon. Where you choose to put that horizon, can dramatically change the feel and implication of the scene.

Below are a series of images of the same landscape scene with the horizon positioned at different points in the frame. This scene was chosen as it is reasonably interesting (from certain view points) and it has an unbroken and clear horizon, helping to emphasise the importance of the horizon:

The part of the scene that makes this an interesting landscape, in my opinion, is the clouds and the sky. At the time of taking the images, I felt that I would need to keep some of the landscape in the image to give it some context. As I started moving the horizon up in the frame, I felt like the interest of the image was diminishing.

However, reviewing the images once I was away from the scene has told a slightly different story. The first image in the sequence, where the horizon is at the lowest point in the frame, doesn’t given any kind of feel for the expanse of the landscape and the land part of the image feels very flat. The next image in the sequence, start to give a feel for the openness.

The image with the horizon in the centre of the image looses the sun, dramatically reducing the interest of the sky. Having nothing of interest or visual reference in the foreground leaves it feeling empty and needless to the image. Moving the horizon down again introduces a different interesting aspect to the scene that I hadn’t considered until I came to review the images. This image has a hollow in the field and apparent lines leading away from the hollow taking your eyes out into the corners of the frame. The trees in the top left corner give a nice boundary and there is still some interest from the sky, although this very much now feels like it is supporting the landscape instead of being the main focus.

Finally, moving to the last image with the horizon at the top of the scene. This image doesn’t work in my opinion. The tree have been out at the top of the image and there is very little of interest left. Reviewing this particular image, I was surprised how badly it seemed to work.


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