Photo Lesson 1 - 50/50 Horizon Photo Killer

Gosh. You guys were brutal. The photo is gray and flat but it was a gray day. It is a boring photo because I wanted to make the first lesson simple and not complicate it. This is photography 101, so this lesson was not how to produce a perfect photo. It was about framing.

Getting both boats in focus depends on your camera settings. To do that I would have had to change my camera settings. I shot this on auto, something I rarely ever use. Because I have to shoot in so many different types of light, I am a slave to manual shooting. However, most novices and many hobby shooters use auto, shutter, or aperture priority . They don't use manual.

I shot this as if I were a tourist getting out of the car looking at the pretty water and the boat coming in. I also liked the front of the boat so I left it for framing. We will get in to advanced framing later on.

I also used a normal lens. A lot of people can zoom with point and shoot cameras but many people have simpler cameras. I addressed this little lesson to those who don't have fancy zooms. This photo could even be taken with a cell phone. So, with limited tools, how could we make this photo better?

First of all, our eyes see things in a different way that the camera sees them. Anyone who wants to try for better photos must learn to think like a camera. That is a more advanced lesson.

Sandra Leigh. You are too funny. Why indeed? I think we can all go back into our old photos or the photos our parents took and wonder the same thing. Why did they take that photo? Again, it goes back to the eyes. Wanting to capture what we see on the camera and getting what we expected can be disappointing at times.

I did not crop the photo. It was a point and shoot photo; that is the way it came out of the camera. Nothing was done to it.

Rebecca is the winner. It was the horizon. They are photo killers. Never use a 50/50 horizon.

There are very rare occasions where professionals use the 50/50 horizon. There is method to their madness. But for 90% of us, and for me, the 50/50 horizon is a photo killer. When shooting outdoors, always give a little more sky or a little more ground. That depends on what you are shooting. Either Jen or me will give more lessons on that in the future.

Here is the original: You should click on photos to enlarge them. See how the simple shift of a horizon and possibly a crop (we all know how to crop) can change your photo?

The below photo is taken from the same spot on the same setting. I only lowered my camera and shifted it slightly to the left. The photo is certainly a trash bin photo but you can see how the photo is made better by getting rid of that 50/50 horizon line. Putting your horizon in the center of a photo confuses people, as they are not sure what you meant to photograph.

The below photo was cropped a little so that the sign to the right was not stuck out in the middle and so that I was able to remove that little speck of chrome you see in the left on the above photo. Little things like that tend to draw one's eye from the photo. For those of you who know how to use your photo editor I bumped up the contrast a tad.

This is same photo cropped to eliminate the foreground and go for the sky, something you might want to do if you have a beautiful sunset or spectacular clouds. I did bump up the contrast one notch. What we have here is a boat coming in to safe harbor after a hard day out on the water.

Jen is up for next weeks tip.


  1. Oh! That's what I meant to say!

  2. All you were thinking about, Gordon, was where were the fishing poles and what was biting. Heehee.

    I might not posting a lot over the next few days, though I do have my Friday post and two other posts scheduled. Company is coming in a week early so between work and company...well, you know? I am frantic trying to clean house - and I was lucky enough to pull jury duty which I have on Tuesday.

  3. Love our new slide show. What fun. We iz gettin classy.

  4. Great lesson...but more importantly to me I do not understand the assignment for this week!!! Could I possibly be that narrow minded or do I just have too much stuff running around in my head. Any help would be appreciated.

  5. Patty, thank you for the lesson. I never knew about the 50/50 horizon. I just learned about the rule of thirds last week. All this is wonderful and very helpful. I so appreciate the tips and I really like that you gave us examples of several pictures. It helps me comprehend the lesson much better.

    I'm kind of on the same page as Sandy regarding next weeks assignment. Are we supposed to know the history of the building or just take photos of the same building at different angles?

  6. I appreciate the lesson although I'm cringing - I had a 50/50 photo in my last shoot out! But I will do better now I know better. That was a great lesson for me as I take so many beach photos. Thanks heaps!

  7. I believe the intent is to feature one building. Knowing a little about its history may be a plus, but don't feel like it is an information shootout. Just focus on a building you like. For more info contact GingerV. Gordon

  8. Hahahaha - I'm laughing at "me" because now I want to go back through my archives to see if I have taken any 50/50 shots :)

    What a difference it makes in the meaning of the photo!!

    Thanks, Patty :)

  9. I often take 50/50 photos so thanks for the tip. Love the idea of both of you sharing your expertise - I need all the help I can get!

  10. I remember the rule of the thirds. I think this applies here.


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