Checking the horizon

Skateboard Memorial

Skateboard Memorial  (from the series: Bad Trip – Sad Trip)

One of the nice things about showing your images to your friends, in this case the collaborative photoblog Stills that I am a member of, you get wonderful feedback, on both technical and esthetics concerns. A reoccuring comment for my images, especially if taken of the urban landscape, is that the vision wonders off the lower right side of my photographs. Whether I have a greater emphsis on the lower right corner, a highlight in that corner or that the images are tilted to that corner, either way their vision leaks off the image on the lower right corner. Okay, that is NOT an effect that I want to create accidentially because of whatever reason.

So I have been trying to pay attention to the horizontals and the lower right side of the image. To help with keeping the camera horizontal I bought a rather expensive acrylic photographers bubble (about $45 US, which seems kinda of expensive for some acrylic and water) to double check my camera alignment. I have an inexpensive ball head and as I look to upgrade this ballhead to handle the weight of my 70-200mm lens, I will be looking for a bubble as well.

I have also increased my diligence when creating my images to do the old double-check for the bottom right corner. But stuff still gets by. Perhaps my archilles heel? So as I now edit some of my older images, I know that I need to give the lower right corner a little longer look and see if something is not out of whack.

Which was the issue with this image, Skateboard Memorial. This image was done, complete, absolutely nothing more to do! Yeah, right. As I had the image laid out with the rest from the series, I found that something was bothering me, a quiet little visual knawing that something was out of sorts with this one image. I saw that the composition favored the lower right corner, which is where a lot of the businessness of the memorial items were clustered. I thought the image was balanced with the brighter upper left corner. Then I realized that as I looked at the car in the mid-ground that it was tilted a little too much to the right. Horizontals! This part of Laguna Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway is not flat, as this is older community and an old well traveled road. I believe that I had used my camera bubble, but I was also getting the evil-eye from a Sheriff for having my camera and tripod in the street. So I was a little rushed. So I think that I did get my horizontals correct technically, just not visually. So I had to rotate the image slightly to put things back into the correct visual reference, which now feels much better as I view the final image, above. To get the car roof in the mid-ground completely horizontal would require a little more counter-clock wise image rotation, but I do not think at this time that its neccessary.

BTW, this memorial is for a teenager, Max, who was ridding his bike home from the beach along the highway in the evening and was killed by a hit-and-run driver. This accident which occured last summer has not been solved. His dad built the skateboard memorial from Max’s favorite boards.

Best regards, Doug

Note; In thinking later about this post, I guess I should have named it: “Checking the Horizontals”.  Oh, well, wonderful hindsight.


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