The placement of the horizon in a Landscape Photography composition is crucial. Although sometimes the placement is dictated by taste, placement of the horizon in a photograph can make or brake a photo composition. If positioned effectively, the horizon can contribute or be ignored by the viewer. If the horizon is poorly placed it can distract the eye from the focal point of a composition.
The Rule of Thirds is an important rule in landscape photography. That is that the horizon should not be placed in the center of the picture but either in the upper third or lower third. Like all rules, there are always exceptions. We have compiled some suggestions and guidelines that you may want to use when considering the placement of the horizon in your landscape photography composition.
Placing the Horizon in the lower third:
Using the lower third for the placement of your horizon will emphasize the sky. This is the optimal position for the horizon if your focal point of the composition is a intriguing sky. By having the horizon positioned in the lower third, you are giving priority to the upper two-thirds of the picture. Make sure there is something to grab the viewers attention. Placing the horizon in the lower third and having a clear blue sky in the upper two-thirds would be a waste of space and probably won’t hold the viewers attention for very long.
Positioning the Horizon in the Upper Third:
Positioning the horizon in the upper third allows you to emphasize the foreground of the composition. The viewer will be drawn to the detail of the image in the lower two-thirds of the picture.
Positioning a Center Horizon:
Compositionally speaking, placing the horizon in the center of the picture is the most complicated of the three. If the placement of the horizon is just a little off center e.g. (to high, to low ) it can through the whole picture off balance. It is best to get the horizon dead center otherwise it will look like you didn’t take the time to position the horizon correctly or didn’t crop the picture correctly. One type of picture that lends itself to a centered horizon is a reflection shot. With a reflection shot the horizon is easy to center and balance. It is also a good idea to have something break the horizon and show a relation between the upper and lower half.
Not using the Horizon:
Sometimes the landscape scene you are shooting completes the composition itself. If the horizon or the sky is not adding or enhancing the picture, you might want to consider omitting it all together.
We hope these basic guidelines help you with your next Landscape Photography Composition.