underwater Photo Course :: (6) Composition :: The Horizon
The Horizon Underwater
U/W Photo Course
Learn u/w photography the easy way!
One obvious candidate for application of the Rule of
Thirds and the Golden Mean is the horizon. Underwater, where we move in three dimensions, the
horizon can be vertical (as in the case of a wall dive) or horizontal. What do you think about the
horizon in these shots?
It is a line and it does divide our frame.
But, it's not always clear where the horizon is - or whether there is any horizon at all. Often Snell's WindowOptical phenomenon of elliptical window underwater observed looking up at an angle to the surface caused by refraction. confuses it.
You can get a horizon (of sorts) even with macroPhotography of smaller subjects shot (between 1:1 and 1:3) on macro settings or with macro equipment shots like the Tompot Blenny shot. However you can't predict where the flash will fall off and so will not be sure you get
a horizon unless you get down really low.
By placing the 'horizon' high you give dominance to the
foreground, by placing it low you give dominance to open water.
With a housingA casing or box with waterproof seals designed to contain a camera or other equipment in such a way that it can be used underwater. you can take pictures half in and half out of the water - commonly known as over/undershots that cross the surface boundary i.e the camera lens is half-in and half-out of the water showing subjects above and below shots.
This is possible because of your dome portLens port constructed as part of a sphere of uniform thickness for wide-angle underwater photography.. Non SLR users (Sea & Sea/Nikonos) skip this next section.
(see Part 2 to learn how to take successful over/undershots that cross the surface boundary i.e the camera lens is half-in and half-out of the water showing subjects above and below shots).
The placement of the horizon is especially important with
over/under shots. You should, generally, give equal weight to above and below elements and therefore contradict the 'don't stick it in the middle' rule.
The horizon can emphasize dominance. If the most important element of your shot is in the foreground then it should occupy two thirds of
the frame. If there is an important element in the background (like a diver
in mid water) then the horizon should be placed a third of the way
across. Whatever you do, unless an over/under shot, the best advice is avoid placing the
horizon EXACTLY in the middle.
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