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1. Originally Posted by chriscrawfordphoto
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.
Can you explain exactly how a level will resolve tilted horizons or tilted landscapes? I'm not really comprehending it in my head. It appears to me that a level camera is irrelevant to a level photograph...

Thanks! (I'm sure this will click soon enough)

Mark

2. It gives a true level, so that the image will appear as it appears to the person looking at the actual scene.
We automatically "self-level" constantly, through our sense of balance. Looking through a viewfinder or at a groundglass image, it is not always easy to perceive tilt, as we, not being tilted, are not sensing tilt while looking at the image. We therefore have to determine tilt, instead of just knowing it. By putting a level on the camera, we determine that we have eliminated tilt.

3. Originally Posted by mporter012
Can you explain exactly how a level will resolve tilted horizons or tilted landscapes? I'm not really comprehending it in my head. It appears to me that a level camera is irrelevant to a level photograph...

Thanks! (I'm sure this will click soon enough)

Mark
Used to correct roll, clockwise or counter-clockwise, a level helps get the upper and lower film edges into paralel with the perfect theoretical horizon.

Used to correct pitch, getting the film plane absolutely vertical, gets vertical subjects, like trees, buildings, people, etc... to stand up straight.

Yaw in relation to the subject is one wild card here that can mess with a perfectly level camera.

In the middle of the ocean it doesn't matter because the horizon, regardless of what the flat earthers say , is simply limited by the curve of the earth it is essentially the same distance from the camera regardless of the direction you look, this is as close as we get to a perfect theoretical horizon.

On land the distance to the horizon can be limited by any number of things, as the camera is swung left or right only a horizon line exactly half way between top and bottom of the frame will remain parallel to the top and bottom on the film. Horizontal lines above and below the middle will tilt more and more as yaw increases, this effect also gets more pronounced the further you get toward the edges of the frame. This effect is easy to see if you take a shot of a building straight across a street, then swing the whole camera left or right for a second shot.

4. Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh
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.
I completely agree. I level my tripod and camera as a starting point. I either use grid lines to make sure it looks level in the photograph or just "eye ball it" at level if I'm using a camera without grid lines. Gridlines do really help.

Being level or not being level doesn't matter. What matters is that the resulting photograph appears level if that is what you are trying to achieve.

5. Originally Posted by Alan Gales
Being level or not being level doesn't matter. What matters is that the resulting photograph appears level if that is what you are trying to achieve.
Yep.

The beauty of a camera with movements is that you can manipulate the horizon and ...

6. I carry a horizontal level and use it when practical. Other times I level the camera by eye, just taking my eye from the finder and looking to see if the camera is crooked. Obviously works only when on tripod (most often that means I get ready to take the shot, take my eye off the finder and realize the camera is significantly skewed and I correct THAT).

7. Originally Posted by mporter012
Can you explain exactly how a level will resolve tilted horizons or tilted landscapes? I'm not really comprehending it in my head. It appears to me that a level camera is irrelevant to a level photograph...

Thanks! (I'm sure this will click soon enough)

Mark
The horizon tends to be exactly perpendicular to the pull of gravity. So a bubble or pendulum 'level' [noun] is a fantastic aid to making the top edge of the film plane parallel to the horizon.

8. This is true, as i've not been around the world and therefore couldn't necessarily attest to this 'fact'... what i can attest to is that it is indeed slightly curved.

9. "If the film is paralel to the actual important verticals and horizontals in your scene then those verticals and horizontals will be straight on the film too. "

Finally someone explains the crux of the problem!
If you understand the basic principles than you can do better composition.
The film plane must always be parallel to the plane of the scene you are photographing or distortion will result.
I use a 24mm with SLR and 21mm with Rangefinder, no level, no tripod, no ground glass with grid but knowing the physics can minimize the effects.
So without a tilting lens such as the Nikkor series of Perspective Control lenses or view camera, there will be times that you can't avoid distortion but at least you will understand why.-Dick

10. Seriously though, I think I heard this on The Daily Show, so not exactly a academic source, but there is a alliance or group somewhere in the world that is disputing whether the world actually is round!

Originally Posted by mesantacruz
This is true, as i've not been around the world and therefore couldn't necessarily attest to this 'fact'... what i can attest to is that it is indeed slightly curved.

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