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Getting your Images Straight – Watch your Lines

In my last post I talked about making sure your landscape photos have horizontal horizons but they are not the only type of photograph that can look offline.

Another common mistake in all kinds of photography is other crooked lines.

For example take a look at this photograph that friend took of me recently (yep that’s what I look like).


One of the things that is wrong with this shot (and I won’t totally dissect it here) is that the base if the window behind me slopes downward to the left. While I do live in an older style house I know that that windowsill is even and my friend was obviously holding the camera slightly crookedly when the shot was taken.

Some people viewing the photo will not notice this mistake but others will (either consciously or subconsciously) and it does spoil the image a little.

The same principle applies to many other types of photographs. Another common type is shots of building which in most cases are built to be level and have lots of straight lines. Take for example this shot of an archway in a European art gallery.


While it is often difficult to get all the lines perfectly straight when taking a shot of a building looking up (you’ll find unless you’re perfectly straight on and at a height that is even with the middle of the building that your vertical lines will taper towards the top) this shot is obviously off line if you look at how the bottom of the painting slopes towards the right in comparison to the bottom edge of the view finder.

While the tapering effect would have remained the image would have been vastly improved with the camera straightened slightly.

So the rule of thumb – unless you’re going for real effect (and if you are, angle the camera on a greater angle than above) take a moment before you take your shots to ask yourself a question about what lines there are in your view finder.

Don’t just consider the horizon but also look at other horizontal lines and the vertical lines. Use the edges on the edges of your view finder as a gauge and once you’ve got them lined up make sure you don’t move around too much and you’ll be much more likely to get things right.

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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