The rule of the Horizon, a key foundation of the Photographic Composition

When we talk about composing our images, we are actually talking about getting sorted items appearing in them to thereby help the viewer to read our photographs. Certain rules (which actually are rather guidelines or guidelines) that in general, help compose our photographs in an attractive manner to the human eye. The rule of the horizon is one of them: a little help to give some visual appeal to our photographs. What is the rule of the horizon? Where from? How to use it? And besides, when breaking?

Everything comes from the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds says that there are four points within a box that is more visually appealing than others and, therefore, that to achieve an attractive composition; we should put the elements of our compositions at these points. As seen in the image, these four points are from the intersection of four lines: two horizontal and two vertical. To follow the rule of thirds will suffice us to use only two of these lines, horizontal.

That is, divide the image into three horizontal stripes completely equal between them. Once done, we will only use it to distribute the elements of our image. As its name suggests, this rule is to place the horizon line in one of the lines you just drew. Before delving into what line we should place our horizon, it is important to point out that this division of the frame can be made for shots in both landscape and for those we shoot in the vertical. We’ll just split the image into three equal areas.

And of course, do not suffer if you do not get your photograph divided into three equal stripes completely at first. Many cameras usually offer the ability to superimpose themselves from the rule of thirds on your screen guides thus helping the user. You can start using them as a guide but you’ll see that over time ends up being an automatic process when framing.

Where Do I Place the Horizon?

How can we know where we should place our horizon in the image according to the rule of thirds? It’s as easy as knowing what we want to give importance. We said in the introduction to compose is to arrange the elements to guide the viewer’s eye, that’s what we do: we have two lines that cross our image. So we have, in principle, two possible positions for our horizon.

Photographic Composition

Put the horizon in the upper third of the image. We will use it when we want the eyes of him who sees the image is centered at the bottom of this, i.e., in the landscape. By placing the horizon in the upper third, the land will take up more space inside the box and, therefore, we will be giving more importance.

Put the horizon in the lower third of the image. It will be useful when we want to give more importance to the sky, clouds or any meteorological phenomenon or subject air that we have ahead. By placing the horizon on the lower third, the sky will be what occupies more space within the frame, so look for one that will see the photo towards him.

The Third Option: Breaking the Rules

Do not think that everything ended there! Sure you’ve heard many times that that “the rules are to be broken” and especially in photography and the art world where to be creative we must be free. So, effectively, there is a third option: break the rule and place the horizon in the mathematical center of our image. This will be particularly attractive to, for example, symmetrical pictures (easy to find if you use water reflections, for example) or if you simply want to give equal weight to both sides of the picture.

You can also invent the position you want for your horizon, if you consider that for the photo you want to do any of the positions described above works well. But if you’re going to do this, make sure it makes sense. It is not an oversight, wanting to do that: if you decide to break the rules, you should be aware of why you do it. So, to break rules is essential to know in advance and know what to bring photography. Just so you can conclude that this rule does not work for your photography and, therefore, you can break it with reason.

Horizon Rule Works Not Just for Horizons

We tend to think that horizon line between sky and earth in landscape photographs but nothing is (only) as well. All photographs have a horizon, sometimes can not even see. Although this is the case of our picture, we have to be aware of where the horizon is to compose the image accordingly.

Remember that the position of the horizon is also a very important element to mark the perspective of our photographs, so place the horizon at one point or another may offer us more or less depth in the image we are doing. And, part of the line between heaven and earth, what else can be a good horizon? For any horizontal line across your photography is a potential horizon. Overall horizon tends to split the image, but not necessarily be to separate heaven and earth, so if you find a picture of this style, now you know what to do with her horizon!


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