crooked landscapes!

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by mporter012, Aug 2, 2013.

  1. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    Thank God for the APUG community. I've had no shortage of complications in transitioning from digital to film.

    Here is my latest dilemma. I shoot landscapes mostly, and always use a tripod and a cable release. From the hundreds of photos I shot last winter, probably 60% or more of the compositions are crooked. When I composed the images, they were always symmetrical or had a certain line/form. I've taken art courses and studied photographers prior to film, so I understand quite well what I'm looking for and what I composed and the results are different.

    I'm not sure, but I'm imagining this is not unrelated to other problems I've had with my fe2, with blurred images, ect.

    Any thoughts?

    Regards -
     
  2. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    You might find a small bubble level to be of some help.
     
  3. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    They are crooked on the film or on the print?
    If on the film perhaps you need to use a focusing screen with crosslines for reference - if your camera has that option.
     
  4. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    Due to an eye condition I have, I tend to tilt my head to the right slightly (just a couple of degrees, but it's enough to be noticeable in the pictures). I have found that a focus screen with a grid is very helpful in "reminding" me to level things when photographing. The FE2 does take interchangeable screens, and the one with the grid is Type E.
     
  5. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    I had this problem for years. Didn't really pay attention until someone commented about slightly crooked horizons. I went back and looked closely at past photos and realized it was true.

    Looked in a mirror and realized my eye sockets themselves are not perfectly horizontally aligned. One is slightly higher than the other. Don't know if that's the cause. Maybe I'm like Dr. Frankenstein's Monster. Could also be an inner ear defect, I suppose. But my eyesight is fine.

    So I fitted my Nikons with the same gridded 'E' type screen mentioned above. It's used for architectural work. That did the trick. But now when the grid says it's correct, it still feels wrong to me. And when it feels right, the grid says it's wrong.

    :confused:

    Ken
     
  6. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I think black easel blades and a piece of plain white (non-photographic) paper in the easel help this problem. That way you can tell better how it is cropping as you adjust the easel. Also, putting the negative right-side-up in the negative carrier projects it up-side-down on the easel. Seeing it that way can sometimes make the uneven horizon more evident.
     
  7. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Easiest is to shoot with a focusing screen with a grid. I also use a simple grid lined paper (graphing paper style) that I custom make from this great website: http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/ you can input the sizes you want for the grids, and choose whatever style you like, from standard boxes to triangles, and print it. I drop this graph paper onto my easel, align it with my blades on both sides, and use that to help get nice straight lines in prints. For lots of tripod work a nice bubble level makes things easier. I use a simple inexpensive 3 axis type and it works fine. there is also a digital LED level with blinking level indicator lights for I think $30 bucks which might also be a nice investment if you use it a lot.
     
  8. mesantacruz

    mesantacruz Subscriber

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    yes, a grid would help... but a bubble level helps more, especially when the horizon when lines aren't level with horizon, or they are at a strange angle which throws off what you think is level...

    I used to have this problem much more often than i do now, but using a digital camera with a digital level, has helped me a bunch... especially when looking up or down, you tend to compensate for wide angle distortion or what not by turning the camera slightly... It 'looks' right at the moment, but when you print full frame, which might be your intention, it's quite upsetting to realize you weren't holding the camera level to the horizon.

    cropping does help, but it becomes annoying, when you end up cropping things at the edge of the frames that you intended to use compositionally.
     
  9. Kevin Kehler

    Kevin Kehler Member

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    I have a very similar condition, which my optometrist calls "right-eye heavy", where landscapes are always tilted down on the right-hand side. She says it comes from the way your eyes process scenes, when both eyes are open, you naturally compensate but since you close one eye to focus... She also said only photographers complain about it.

    Bubble levels and grids are the only things that work for me, since I know it is not level but I don't see it.
     
  10. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

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    I carry a small pocket sized carpenter's level. You can get one at a hardware store or Walmart for a few dollars. I have several so that one lives in each of my camera bags. Using it eliminated my tilted horizon problems.
     
  11. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    I do the same. Have a small torpedo level in each large format kit.

    I also invested in a nice gridded Steve Hopf ground glass for the 8x10. His grids are inked on in such a way that under the dark cloth they disappear completely for composing. But when you need them all that's required is to subtly lift the cloth to let in just a little bit of light, then they show nicely against the still visible image. It's like having both a gridded and non-gridded glass installed at the same time. I love it.

    Ken
     
  12. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Use slower film and a wider angle lens and then rotate the enlarged easel.
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Interesting comments. I've found that even when you use a tripod and a spirit level sometimes the horizons aren't straight. I can think of a few photographs I've taken where I've buildings in the foreground and they are correct but the horizon slopes sometimes quite significantly. It's usually due to the angle of light and atmospheric conditions and is most noticable when it's the sea leading to the horizon, other times it's due to the topography.

    Ian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2013
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  15. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    I only have this problem with my Mamiya 7, it's the only camera I output crooked photos, till I realized some genius decided to make the breaks in the outline of the frame lines different on one side than on the other, I have no clue what the reason is, but it's my one complaint about the Mamiya 7.

    So I think the fe2 is a RF right? So that could be the issue too?


    Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  16. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    I too use a spirit level in my day-to-day business; helps tremendously.

    Although lately, I have found that when I tighten the head, it actually pulls it down slightly, meaning it is the tiniest bit out. Time for me to purchase a new one that works better!
     
  17. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    All of my cameras have a grid focusing screen fitted, additional to a bidirectional ('T') spirit level on my 35mm EOS1N. The grid screen makes it very easy to precisely align the horizon and verticals.
     
  18. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    The OP has mentioned elsewhere having a Nikon FE2
     
  19. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Mark,

    It is obvious to me that you need a large format camera. :wink:

    Our big brains are sometimes too smart IMO. They "fix" what we see in the viewfinder all too easily.

    Yes as others have said getting a screen with lines/a grid may help, but leveling the tilt around the lens axis may not be the whole issue.

    What I mean by "needing" a large format camera, is that camera movements (specifically here swing and tilt of the back without regard for where the lens is pointed) can help you see and fix the "other issues" in the composition.

    You can actually get a feel for this with your current camera. It takes two lenses or a zoom to see the difference and is easiest to see if the subject has strong horizontals and verticals. Pick a subject that you can shoot with say a short telephoto 70-100mm and a lens about half that focal length 35-50 or shorter.

    Compose the tele shot tight just as you normally have shot before, now put the shorter lens on and carefully tilt the camera and swing it left or right until you get all the horizontals and verticals where they look "square". The original "long lens" composition may be in the upper right (or some other spot).

    Go print both negatives, crop the wide angle shot to roughly match the long lens shot. For this experiment completely ignore grain and resolution concerns, this is purely about geometry and composition.

    If that fixes the problem, shoot wide and crop as a normal part of your life or get a camera with movements.

    ps. Note that I didn't say use a level.
     
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  20. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    No, it's an SLR.
     
  21. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Unless you are making straight architectural drawings or photographs, the angle you choose to use with your camera for artistic expression is up to you. Verticals, horizontals and horizons can be expressed as your interpretation of the scene. This is all bound up with composition, form, line, tone and movement within the frame. Throw away your spirit level and watch some batman films, or look at the different ways visual artists have used perspective.
     
  22. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    On the film. Should have mentioned that.
    I do have a grid screen - I just wonder if my screen is not properly in place?

    Idk, I'm telling you, I am meticulous and know what my compositions are, so either I'm losing it, or something is wrong!

    Mark
     
  23. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    This is fascinating. Well, it's good to know I'm not the only one with this complication!

    Mark


     
  24. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    Really interesting discussion. It's just so interesting to me that others have this issue. So if I'm understanding properly, I just put a level on top of the camera? I'm not completely comprehending how leveling my camera necessarily levels my image?

    Mark
     
  25. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    Since you also mention focus problems, the screen could be out of alignment or just not seated properly. Try a different camera, and a different screen in your FE2, in side-by-side comparisons.

    I actually don't use an E screen in my F3, I prefer a P screen. This has cross-hairs dividing the screen up into quadrants, as well as micro-prism collar and diagonal split-image focusing aids.

    I discovered my issue with crooked horizons while shooting for my college newspaper. My eye problems are the result of a seizure I had when very young, which left me with third cranial nerve palsy. This basically paralyzed the right side of my face to some extent, especially my right eye, which also moved out of alignment with my left eye. I've had several eye muscle surgeries to put it back into something approaching the right position, but it barely moves and doesn't dilate (it's closed down to a smaller aperture). The doctors also suggested that my left eye be patched for several hours a day over a few years when I was young, to encourage me to use my right eye. As a result of this, my left eye is very nearsighted and I do not see in three dimensions unless I really concentrate on focusing both eyes on the same point. All of this got me very interested in eyesight and eventually photography.
     
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  26. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    The horizon is only level at sea. On land it can vary. A level is only useful if it is adjusted so the bubble is centered when the camera is level. Gridlines are your only really useful tool here, as anyone who uses a view camera for architecture can attest.