In landscape photos, the sky is usually very important. Most landscapes have either a dominant foreground or sky; if they are not there, the photo may seem boring.
If the sky is rather monotonous, like a bright blue sky or a gloomy grey sky, do not let that dominate the picture and place the horizon at least in the top third of the image, but be careful that the foreground stays interesting.
On the other hand, when the sky is full of drama and interesting cloud formations and colours are available, give it room. It can be fun and exciting to place the horizon much lower.
Use of filters
Post-processing can also significantly improve the sky, but filters should undoubtedly be considered to add colour and contrast. ND grad filters will also help balance the picture’s dynamic range. Polarisers will intensify the blues. I will come back later to the dynamic range and the use of filters in another post.
In post-processing levelling, a horizon in Photoshop or Lightroom is not too difficult. Still, ensuring the horizon runs horizontally when creating the image is always much better. A tilting horizon is highly distracting and takes away from the image. Especially in seascapes, one should avoid that the ocean looks like it’s going to pour off to one side of the photo unless it is part of the dynamic set-up for a certain sailing scene.
When it comes to composition, the most natural place for the horizon on one of the third lines (above or below) is better than right in the middle. But of course, there are always occasions where symmetry with the horizon right in the middle can contribute to a serene image. A centred horizon usually works very well in the case of reflections as, by default, the composition is easily balanced.
There are occasions where the horizon can be left out totally. When no horizon is visible, one usually speaks of a closed landscape. Creating a feeling of depth can be a bit more difficult for closed landscapes, but it is certainly not impossible.
In future blogs, I will develop several of these topics. So keep reading, and please let me know your feelings about the rules and breaking the rules.
The landscape photo Guy